If every university on Earth was destroyed we would lose nothing.
If we lose the forests, we will have lost everything
Tree planting actions and awareness campaigns are an important part of RVA’s curriculum. We partner with many different stakeholders in order to plant the most beneficial trees in several different projects. We plant shade trees with schools, fruit trees in communities, give away moringa seedlings for personal backyards, plant mangroves on beaches. Why?
Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen that we breathe. One tree produces enough oxygen for four people to breathe. Their powerful roots stabilize the banks, preventing landslides and soil erosion; mangroves protect the wetlands, an important part of our ecosystem. Trees form a barrier against winds and regulate the temperature and humidity levels. They provide shade for people and crops, so important in tropical climates. As part of a bigger ecosystem, trees provide food and shelter for many different animals. Fast-growing trees ensure good building material, while others give us tasty and healthy snacks!
On the 24th of December 2013 a terrible natural disaster occurred in St. Vincent when torrential rain caused massive floodings and landslides, leaving thousands of people without shelter. After helping with the initial repairs and clean ups, the activists from Richmond Vale teamed up with the Mustique Trust to plant trees in the North Leeward area, which was declared a level two disaster by the government.
Before the tree planting action, the Climate Compliance Conference built a tree nursery at RVA and set all the seedlings. Inside the nursery, tables were built out of local, sustainable materials, mostly bamboo and gliricidia.
In October, participants went to identify the community groups which were mobilized to take part in the planting action. Trees were planted in November and December in many locations such as private lands, backyards, common areas, and road- and riverbanks.
The majority of the trees planted were moringa, along with 300 fruit trees provided by the Forestry Department, including breadfruit, mahogany, sweet sop, carambola and tamarind.
Moringa olieifera has been known for a long time in India and Nepal, and recently it’s been gaining the attention of a widespread community of natural medicine enthusiasts all over the world. The tree grows very fast, making it a sustainable choice for building material, but its real power lies in the nutrients it provides for people, animals and other plants. It is very rich in vitamins and minerals, fights free radicals and inflammation and it even has antibacterial properties! The pods can be used to filter dirty water, while the leaves are most commonly grinded into powder which can be added to any meal.
In Richmond Vale Academy we use moringa powder as a seasoning for food and for moringa tea plus we give our horses, chickens and pigs - they just love to eat fresh moringa leaves!
In one big action in January 2014 we prepared seedlings and then gave away 10,000 moringa trees to Vincentians. The action was a huge success, preceded by an educational campaign about the benefits of this amazing tree, with several appearances in local television, newspaper and radio.
We have planted the trees in 20 of the poorest communities and distributed many more, with hundreds of people coming to our Climate Centre for their tree and information on how to use it.
Since then our activists are sometimes known on the island as “the moringa people”, the title which we wear proudly, and people are still sometimes coming to receive their own moringa tree straight from our 100% organic nursery.
Michael is one of the farmers whom we supported by planting moringa.
The teachers and students helped to plant 100 moringa trees at Michael's farm in Mount Wynne, Central Leeward. For a long time Michael wanted to "Go Organic" and make use of moringa’s benefits. By planting moringa he plans to start a small business and reforest his land. The trees are growing well and his family has started to use the leaves of the plant in their everyday diet. The new trees helped prevent soil erosion on Michael’s farm.
Who? Environment Online – ENO
When? Rio +20 Summit in 2012
Why? To fight climate change
What? Plant 1,000,000 trees all over the world.
Those are the ideals behind the ENO Treelympics initiative. Treelympics – the Olympic games in tree planting.
ENO is a global network for sustainable development, an educational initiative working with over 7,000 schools in 147 countries. During 2012 Rio +20 Summit ENO has committed to planting 1,000,000 trees with the schools by the end of 2017.
Since then, the ENO Treelympics was founded in order to unite activists all over the world to register schools and associations in a competition of tree planting. Everyone can join in and score points for their country, placing it closer to the top. And as any competition Treelympics have the winners, too! There are 3 categories:
Most registered schools, for a country with the biggest number of schools participating in the competition,
Most planted trees, for a country that plants the biggest number of trees,
Most active country, for a country that registers the biggest rate of schools.
The games have their specified time from March to October. Only between those dates can you register your schools and have them plant the trees. Trees planted outside of those days will not be counted towards the competition but are still counting towards fighting deforestation!
The Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment in collaboration with The Ministry of Education invited Richmond Vale Academy as an implementing partner to plant trees with all our schools. As we’ve been planting trees for years, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’ve embraced that challenge with particular interest. The competition aspect of the event brought even more excitement, and… we did it! By the end of the first edition Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have involved the biggest percentage of the schools in the country and won a gold medal in the Most Active Country category, among 114 countries that took part. Not only did we involve most of the schools on the main island of St Vincent but we also sent activists to all smaller islands in the Grenadines archipelago until almost all of them were officially registered and given the trees to plant. The trees planted were mostly moringa, as well as received from the Ministry of Forestry mango, avocado and other varieties. On average each school has planted 15 trees.
The success was repeated in 2015, when we won gold again, in the same category.
For us the Treelympics is not only about planting, but also about educating, so all of the schools taking part in the action (about 100) are hosting our climate activists giving classes about deforestation, climate change and importance of trees, as well as other actions that students can take by themselves to make their nation climate compliant.
Richmond Vale Academy wishes to acknowledge and thank our generous partners, all the schools involved and countless Vincentian activists helping with the actions.
And last but not least, the students from Vincy schools who are planting and learning to take care of the trees.
Read about Kelitha’s first experience with the Treelympics in 2015:
Wow! Is the first thing I would like to say about the Treelympics experience.
For the last 2 years I’ve been working as a teacher at One World Centre US where we do a lot of different development work like here in RVA, but being at RVA is another type of exciting experience; maybe because it’s a project within itself. Even though I’ve only been here for a short time, I’ve already experienced and learned a lot of things; I sort of jumped right into the action starting with the Treelympics.
Together with the Climate Compliance team we kicked off the Treelympics on an island called Bequia, just 45 minutes away from Kingstown, and I must say that it was a great way to start. Not only did we meet school officials and students, we also got the chance to see the beauty of the island and meet with a lot of local people, without all the tourists around; so they actually had a talk with us and get to know our school and mission better. When we first arrived to the island, Donnaka, the guest house owner greeted us and helped us organize transportation. Since we had a pick up truck available we used the opportunity to greet the principals and drop off the 20 fruit trees to each school, the school which we were planning to plant at later time.
After we arrived to the guest house and settled in we divided ourselves into pairs and each visited 2 schools. The first school my partner and I visited was Bequia SDA primary school; the school itself was small but managed to house grades 1-6. We gave presentation about the importance of trees to the whole school (somewhere between 100-200 students plus staff). During the presentation we could see that the kids were learning a lot and were very interested in why it was important to plant and preserve trees. We even talked a lot about the 2013 disaster that happened right here in St. Vincent. After the presentation we played a short quiz to see if the students had understood the information.
The students were so excited to play the game and to be a part of the presentation. Later, together with a staff from the school and 15 students from different grades, we planted 20 fruit trees around the school. I must say that I was surprised to see how much the students knew about the different trees and how much they were interested in their school having these trees. In fact, the students organized almost everything, like where the trees should be planted and why a certain spot was a good idea. When we finished, we presented the school with a certificate for winning last year’s Treelympics and said our good-byes.
At the end of the day I must say I was in good spirit, I felt happy to be a part of it all: the excitement, the community work and most important the development.
Thanks to ENO, Mika Vanhanen, The Mustique Trust, The Ministries of Agriculture, Environment and Education and Bequia Primary School for this wonderful experience.