It appears that Government’s ambitious goal of planting one million trees by the end of 2020 is under threat from the worsening drought conditions facing the country.
This morning, Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod revealed that while Government still intends to move full steam ahead on the initiative, they may have to battle Mother Nature to pull it off.
“At the start of the tree planting programme, the Prime Minister [Mia Mottley] signalled in no uncertain terms, in the middle of challenging times and with little rainfall, that we had to get one million or more trees and I promised her that I would shoot for two million.
“It is only after that I got the news that the Meteorological Office is saying that we are now in the worst dry season [that Barbados has experienced in] the last 50 years or more. Let us hope on this occasion that the predictions will not come to pass,” the Minister said.
Prescod was speaking at a tree planting ceremony at the botanical gardens at Waterford, where Commonwealth Secretary General Baroness Patricia Scotland planted a Baobab tree. A commemorative plaque was also unveiled at the spot.
The Met Office has issued a warning to Barbadians, to brace for more drought-like conditions and increased threat of heatwaves throughout 2020.
So serious is the threat, said leading meteorologist at the Barbados Meteorological Service Sabu Best, that if current trends continue, authorities may be forced to declare a nationwide drought.
Meantime, climatologist Dr Cedric Van Meerbeeck has predicted that more fires, lower crop yields and a decrease in available water over the dry season could become the norm.
Minister Prescod made it clear, however, that Government was by no means ready to throw in the towel on its ambitions which form part of the push to effect climate change. He said Government was already working on several plans which would facilitate continued tree planting, despite low water levels.
“We are looking at having a number of dams and other measures that would help us harvest water across Barbados,” he revealed.
However, a source at the National Conservation Commission (NCC) told Barbados TODAY that it was likely Government would have to scale back on the project. The source revealed that while land preparation was still ongoing, not many trees are being planted in the current dry season.
“The project is going well but I can’t see [any] other way but to scale back on it a bit. Right now, the NCC is concentrating on the soil preparation but we have not really been planting in a major way at this time. Even from a nursery perspective it is tough going, but we just have to wait and see how it all works out in the end because weather predictions are far from an exact science,” the NCC official said.