UB Imprint Vol 49: Planting Trees to Commemorate World Forest Day and UB Celebrates Earth Hour

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UB Imprint Vol 49: Planting Trees to Commemorate World Forest Day and UB Celebrates Earth Hour

Planting Trees to Commemorate World Forest Day

The University of Belize (UB) joined the global community on March 21st, 2019 to celebrate the International Day of Forests. Under the theme “Learn to Love Forests,” the University held its 7th inaugural and tree planting ceremony with the Minister of State with responsibility for Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Dr. Omar Figueroa, as the Key note speaker.

As noted by its theme, this year’s celebration emphasized forestry education to achieve the goal of sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation; and at UB, also this is particularly important as it relates to embedding our young people with a sense of responsibility and love for our country’s forests and natural environment.

The purpose of the ceremony was twofold. First, it aimed to highlight key roles of forests in our society; therefore, encouraging public participation in forestry related initiatives; and secondly, it was used to raise awareness on the dynamic relationship between forests and development, which culminates in the creation of resilient communities, sustainable societies and thriving economies. As we know, sustainably managed forests is of critical importance to Belize’s development given that sixty percent of its terrestrial area is forests, which houses one of the world’s most biologically-diverse ecosystems and where the industries such as agriculture, fishing, logging and tourism combine to contribute 31% to the national economy. Sensitizing Belizeans towards a more sustainable lifestyle integrating environmental issues, is a priority.

In his address, the Minister Figueroa highlighted the importance of forestry education and how achieving the sustainable development goal (SDG) 15 – life on land, which aims to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss is intimately linked and interconnected to the achievement of other SDGs. For example, in high forest countries like Belize, he noted the achievement of SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities) is dependent on maintenance of a healthy forest resource as we depend on hydroelectricity generated from forested watersheds. The achievement of SDG 1 (Poverty) and SDG 2 (end hunger) is likewise dependent on ensuring the availability of forest goods and services for dependent and vulnerable communities. To this he noted, “the conservation of Belize’s forest is an existential requirement… it plays a vital role in poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and food security.”

The ceremony was attended by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change – Dr. Percival Cho, National Climate Change Officer - Mr. Lennox Gladden, Chief Forest Officer (CFO) – Mr. Wilber Sabido, REDD+ Director – Mr. Eduardo Reyes, UB’s President – Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology – Mrs. Julianne Pasos, Chair of the Science Department – Ms. Karen Bautista as well as UB students and students from two of Belmopan’s high schools.

The ceremony concluded with UB’s President – Professor Sankat, Minister Figueroa, CEO Dr. Cho, CFO Sabido, Mr. Gladden, REDD+ Director Reyes and a student each planting a tree.

UB Celebrates Earth Hour

Earth Hour is a global movement aimed at increasing awareness about the importance of natural resources to our daily activities. It highlights the issue of climate change, its causes and effects and what we as individuals can do to decrease our carbon footprint. On March 30th at 8:30pm – 9:30pm, the University of Belize along with the residents of the City of Belmopan joined the global community in commemorating Earth Hour 2019.

The night was filled with reflections about the goods and services we receive from our natural resources as well as how anthropogenic activities are degrading our ecosystems. Speakers reminded students and community residents that our country, Belize, also depends on its natural wealth as an income earner through the tourism sector. Therefore it is in our best interest to conserve and protect our natural resources by changing the way we currently use our resources and implementing more sustainable practices in our daily activities. The participants of the event were encouraged to make a change in their current lifestyle to one that is more sustainable. The University of Belize’s President, Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat, led the group in a symbolic handprint pledge to “Reduce, Reuse, Change the way you live” group activity.

The President of UB – Professor Sankat would like to extend his heartfelt appreciation to Cru Belize, Ms. Maxine Monsanto of the Department of Environment (DOE), Luz De Las Naciones Dance Group, and the Uh Pax Maya Marimba Group that participated in this year’s UB earth hour event. Special recognition of the students of the Environmental Seminar course that planned and coordinated UB’s Earth Hour 2019. The class thanks the Department of the Environment (DOE), Forest Department, the Belize Audubon Society, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Belmopan City Council for their contributions towards making this year’s event such a success.