Tree planting actions and awareness campaigns are an important part of Richmond Vale Academy's curriculum. We partner with many different stakeholders in order to plant the most beneficial trees in various 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 climate. As part of a bigger ecosystem, trees provide food and shelter for many different animals. Fast-growing trees ensure a 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 rains caused massive a flooding and landslides, leaving thousands of people without shelter. After helping with the initial repairs and cleanups, the activists from Richmond Vale teamed up with the Mustique Trust to plant trees in North Leeward area, which was declared a level two disaster by the government.
Before the tree planting action, the Community made 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. The majority of the trees planted were moringa, along with 300 fruit trees provided by the Forestry Department, including breadfruit, mahogany, sweetsop, carambola, and tamarind.
In another 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, newspapers and radio. 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 inflammations and it even has antibacterial properties! The pods can be used to filter dirty water, while the leaves are most commonly ground into a powder which can be added to any meal. At Richmond Vale Academy we use moringa powder as a seasoning for food, drink moringa tea and our horses, chickens and pigs just love to eat fresh moringa leaves! 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.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Environment invited RVA to take part in a meeting where, with other stakeholders, they analyzed how St. Vincent could participate (and possibly win) "The Olympic Games in Tree Planting".
This tree planting olympiade was created by an NGO called ENO Environment Online. The NGO aims to engage schools around the world in a global tree planting competition. It was funded by the Finnish Government and was initiated at the RIO+20 conference in 2012.
There are three categories in this annual competition. One category aims to plant the most trees while another aims to do so with the most schools. However, since SVG is a small country, at the meeting everyone decided to go for winning the third category; to plant with the highest percentage of participating schools. Therefore, in the following months participants planted trees with 100 schools and some community groups. The RRACC project implemented by the OECS Commission, The Inivershall Rastafari Movement, Scotiabank, and the Mustique Charitable Trust were the main sponsors of the planting and education actions held in SVG. In 2014 and 2015, the competition was held among 114 countries and St. Vincent won gold in the category: The World's most active country.
Both victories put the county on the world map as a country caring for the environment. The Treelympics 2015 was carried out like the one in 2014.
However, unlike in 2014 (where the trees planted were mostly Moringa trees) in 2015, a variety of fruit trees like Soursop, Mango, Papaya, and Cherries were planted. Over the two years, 3.500 trees were planted.
Richmond Vale Academy is very active concerning conservation and eco-restoration in Saint Vincent and aims to be a model in the region and in the world. People come from all over the world to participate in the programs and become climate change activists. "