Daily News, 08/30/96 22
Tree protection is a must
With the financial assistance of
the Virgin Islands Urban Forestry
community Council, I was able to
attend the forestry conference in
Puerto Rico three weeks ago. This
conference was designed for
landowners, forest technicians.
landscape contractors, and others
who are interested in the forest
For years, I have tried to educate
the Virgin Islands public about trees
and the Importance trees play in the
economical development of these
islands. In almost every country I
travel to including my recent trip to
Honduras, Irees play a major role in
cities and urban communities. Hon-
duras has national parks and forest
preserves which are the country's
In the 1700s. the Danish govern-
ment recognized the importance of
trees by passing a law to protect the
forest of St. Croix. In fact, the
Danes were the first colonial gov-
ernment of the Virgin Islands to
establish a forest of mahogany trees
In Davis Bay in the early 1900's.
However, this present govern-
ment has yet to send down the com-
prehensive Land and Water Use
Plan to the legislature for debate.
The plan makes provisions for
preservation and conservation,
Meanwhile, developments are
spreading like wildfire throughout
the Virgin Islands without serious
thought of the environmental impact
some developments might have.
Today, St. Thomas is a concrete
jungle with little room for growth.
Often when one cries out sincerely
to protect the environment, it falls
on deaf ears especially to those in
political positions. Before the 21st
Legislature comes to a close, many
applications for potential investors
in casino hotel development on St.
Croix will probably get their wish
without a proper investigation of
the site as suitable and what will be
the social and environmental impact
on the area.
It Is customary In the Virgin
Islands for big development legisla-
lion to pass in a election year and
also at the ending of a regular year.
In all of this, trees ar lost to what
are call "progress". You see people.
green space is important in order to
have a balance in economical devel-
In 1994. President Bill Clinton
signed into law the National and
Community Service Trust Act.
This legislation is a comprehen-
sive program that provides support
for nonprofit organization and other
volunteer groups that make a differ-
ence in the community.
One of the main reasons for this
legislation is to help people pay for
college in exchange for community
service. The local urban forestry
programs are already educating the
Virgin Islands urban community.
At the end of this month, the St.
George Village Botanical Garden of
SL Croix will be giving away hun-
dreds of native trees to residents.
Croix in the past. In 1995. the
botanical garden also published a
book "Native Trees for Community
Forests" to encourage residents to
plant native trees.
The program of the botanical
garden was funded by the Virgin
Islands Urban Forestry Community
program. This is just one of the
nonprofit organizations in the Vir-
gin Islands that applied for a grant
from the urban forestry program to
do what they are doing now.
Also in 1993, President Bill
Clinton and Vice President Al Gore
introduced their ""Clinalc chdiugc
Action Plan" The Vice President
spoke first by saying global climate
change was the greatest threat fac-
ing the carth. He further said he "...
feared that what we humans are
doing to the only atmosphere we
will ever have".
Trees alter the environment in
which we live by reducing soil ero-
sion, conserving water, improving
air quality, moderating climate, and
harboring wildlife just to name a
Olasee Davis, who holds a mas-
rer of science degree in range man-
agement and forestry ecologIs is a
St. Croix ecologi.t, acrtistr and