National Arbor Day (Barbados)

 The earliest records in Barbados however, report the first local celebration on the island on November 09, 1907 & November 09, 1908, the days set apart for the celebration of His Majesty’s birthday.

On July 08, 1907 Government passed the Preservation of Trees Act – an act to consolidate the acts of Barbados relating to the cultivation and preservation of trees. This act not only put in place an incentive (bounty) for the public to plant trees, but also protected the land on which the trees grew. Further, it provided no tax incentive for all land one acre or more that was already under forestation. An inspector was appointed to verify that statements for bounties were correct which also entailed making sure those trees were planted and that they were cultivated correctly.

The Preservation of Trees Act 1907-10 was repealed in 1950 and replaced by the Cultivation of Trees Act of 1950-22, which commenced March 13th, 1951. This Act dealt more with the cultivation of approved fruit trees but a tax contribution (tax exemption) was paid for approved non-fruit trees. The Chief Agricultural Officer determined the list of both fruit and non-fruit trees that were eligible for such payments. No payment was made unless the Chief Agricultural Office issued a certificate to the effect that:

  1. The trees were being grown in such a number and such distances from each other as he had prescribed or approved;
  2. The trees were being cultivated in accordance with the rules and practice of good arboriculture
  3. The area of land on which the trees are grown is not less than half an acre.

The Trees Preservation Act (1981), which was enacted on 14th December 1981, falls under the ambit of the Chief Town Planner and provides for the protection and maintenance of trees.

Section 13 (1) reads:
Any person who kills a tree without first obtaining from the chief Town Planner a permit under section 4 of this act is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $ 1000.00 or to imprisonment for 6 month or to both”.

Any tree greater than one meter in circumference at a point half meter or more from the ground should not be destroyed unless the requisite permission is obtained. The Act also empowered the Chief Town Planner to mandate the planting, replanting or maintenance of tree on any vacant land on which a new road is being built or any land adjacent to a road.

Many years later, in 1997, the National Conservation Commission re-launched National Arbor Day   with the assistance of  the Barbados National Trust, Barbados 4H Foundation, Coastal Zone Management, The Environment Unit, Soil Conservation Unit & U.W.I and formed the National Arbor Day Committee to oversee the co-ordination of this national event.

Over the years, realising the scope of the work needed to achieve the stated goals, the committee was expanded to include the Barbados Environmental Youth Programme, the National Botanical Gardens & Mr. Mervin Marshall.

Through the management of the diverse technical knowledge, skills, abilities and resources of the member agencies, the National Arbor Day Committee resolves to - 

  • Establish a national day for planting trees
  • Sensitize the populace about the importance of trees
  • Encourage community groups, youth groups and schools to assist in the preservation of the environment.
  • Establish educational programmes.
  • Establish major reforestation, through systematic planting.
  • Ensure the continued protection of our environment.