Cayman Islands Tree Planting Project Team members: Nicolas Corin, Dejea Lyons, Thomas Dickens, Yasmin Vernon, Connor Childs
Marleigh, Yasmin, Thomas, Nicolas and Mathew, students of the Cayman International School, began working on the Cayman Islands Tree Planting Project, a youth-led initiative of the Caribbean Tree Planting Project in March 2020.
Since then, they have engaged the corporate sector, the government and schools to plant trees around the island. As a result of their lobbying, the Government of Cayman Islands announced a National Tree Planting Project. The young leaders are engaging schools to plant trees on the island. They were able to secure the donation of ten trees per school.
In October, the first school planted thirty trees. Other schools have also committed to the project. The team is hoping that the government will help them connect with more schools. The project has partnered with organisations such as Caribbean Bloom, The National Trust, Trees That Feed and Dart’s 2020 Tree Giving Initiative.
The Caribbean Utilities Company, the major natural gas and electricity provider in Cayman will donate fifty-five trees to plant around the island for its 55th anniversary. Cayman’s Tree Planting Project is also encouraging people to plant trees in their backyards and is giving away free fruit trees with the support of Trees for Feed and Caribbean Blooms.
They hope to mobilize enough support to plant 2,500 trees in Cayman. The enthusiasm of these young environmentalists, Marleigh, Yasmin, Thomas and Nicolas is notable. They believe that they have a voice and can make a difference in combating the impact of climate change, one tree at a time.
Tree planting is just one initiative for them!
Q&A with CAYMAN ISLANDS TREE PLANTING PROJECT TEAM
A Q & A was conducted with the support of Bill LaMonte, Adult Advisor for the Cayman Islands Tree Planting Project. Persons interviewed were:
- Yasmin Vernon – aged 18
- Marleigh Smith – age 17
- Nicolas Corin – aged 16
- Thomas Dickens – aged 16
Why are you passionate about the Cayman Islands Tree Planting Project?
I am passionate about the tree planting project because it is hugely linked to climate change and is strong on community involvement.
You started the project in March 2020 and COVID-19 came along around the same time. What did you do?
We started an Instagram page and, a Facebook page and posted everyday about planting trees to help to fight climate change and did competitions online. For example, we invited persons to post a picture of their favourite tree. The winner received a gift certificate to buy a tree and plant it.
How did you get the government involved?
We had a couple of meetings with the government including the Minister of Agriculture. We introduced ourselves and showed them how we could be an asset to them in planting trees in Cayman.
Why is tree-planting important to Cayman?
In Cayman, the nature-rich islands are constantly getting built on destroying the land. The tree planting project will help us appreciate what we have here. It is also important to sustain our wildlife. Also, the cruise ships and traffic to Cayman cause a lot of pollution. Cayman is a small island and needs to control its carbon emissions and take small steps to mitigate the effects of climate change.
How has it been connecting with other agencies and groups within the larger Caribbean Tree Planting Project?
I think it is amazing to see everyone across the Caribbean and even the world coming together for the same purpose – to plant trees. Also, hearing their stories and seeing so many youth involved is fascinating.
What are the future plans for the project?
We want to plant 2,500 trees, partnering with whoever will help us reach that goal. That is why we are reaching out to as many people as possible. We want a big tree planting event.
What advice would you like to give youth who want to start or move forward on their own projects?
- Your voice really does matter.
- Join youth groups that interest you to amplify your voice.
- Young persons are extremely effective as a group. If there is no group that interests you – create one.
- Understand what is happening around you.
- Start a small project. It does not have to be a big one.
- Take on a leadership role.
- Be that catalyst of change.
What is your favourite tree?
We gained their respect. They realise that youth groups are a good platform for getting to the majority of people. We have been reliable in the past and they know we will get the project done. Why is tree-planting important to Cayman? In Cayman, the nature-rich islands
- THOMAS – Mango Tree
- NICOLAS – Blueberry Bush
- MARLEIGH – Mango Tree
- YASMIN – Poinsietta Tree
For more articles on sustainability and social engagement in the Caribbean, read our latest issue of ApaNa Magazine.
Issue 4 provides a range of technical articles covering the environment, climate change and renewable energy, corporate giving and features nonprofit organisations including Nature Fun Ranch in Barbados, Ocean Heroes Network in the Cayman Islands, Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance in the Caribbean region.