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Sacred Heart School students participate in reforestation activities


Last week, the Grade 6 Science SEAkers of the Sacred Heart School were given the opportunity to participate in reforestation activities by collecting and planting the seeds of the West Indian-Almond tree. The Public Entity Saba’s reforestation project partnered with Sea & Learn Foundation, who organized the activity as part of its education and awareness program for the Nature and Environment Policy Plan. The goal of this activity was to introduce students to the island’s flora using this particular tree species, inform them about the important role that trees play in our lives and in the prevention of erosion, and explain them why a reforestation project on Saba is necessary.

 

The students were first introduced to the West Indian-Almond tree with a presentation by the reforestation project manager. Here they learned that this tree was first brought to the region by humans from its native Asia sometime in the 19th century. Over time, this tree has become naturalized as part of the local flora with many trees growing in various parts of the island, such as Troy Hill, Over the Peak, English Quarter and lower Hell’s Gate. The students also got to learn about the physical characteristics of the tree, which would help them to identify it once they were in the forest.


From their classroom, the students ventured into the forest in Troy Hill to collect fallen seeds. For this activity, it was important that they only collected the seeds that were ready to be planted. This meant that they had to differentiate between the various stages of growth and the drying out process of the seeds in order to determine which seeds were ready to be planted and which were not. Only the seeds whose outer flesh had been removed and whose endocarps (the outer shell of the pit) were exposed were to be collected. While in the forest, the students also got the opportunity to see how invasive animal species can negatively impact native and naturalized plants on the island.  At the base of one of the trees was the home of a rat, who had collected most of the fallen seeds and eaten them. Because of this, very few seeds had been able to germinate.

 

Once sufficient seeds have been collected, the students returned to their classroom for the final part of the activity. There they were given a presentation by reforestation ranger Dwayne McKenzie on how to plant the seeds using the soil and pots that had been provided by the reforestation project. Each student planted a seed and labeled their pot with the name of the tree species, the date on which the seed had been planted and their own name. The students will care for these seeds and any young trees that grow from them until the end of the school year. Eventually, the young trees will be given back to the reforestation project and planted at one of the reforestation sites that will be developed in the future.

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