Sacred Heart School grade six pupils participate in reforestation activities

Pupils ventured into the forest in Troy Hill to collect fallen seeds of the West Indian almond tree.

Last week, the grade six Science SEAk­ers of Sacred Heart School had the opportunity to par­ticipate in a reforestation activity by collecting and planting seeds of the West Indian almond tree.

The activity was organised by the Sea and Learn Foun­dation in partnership with the public entity Saba’s re­forestation project as part of its education and aware­ness programme for the Nature and Environment Policy Plan.

The goal of this activity was to introduce pupils 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 to them why a refor­estation project on Saba is necessary.

Pupils ventured into the forest in Troy Hill to collect fallen seeds of the West Indian almond tree.

The pupils were first given a presentation about the West Indian almond tree by the reforestation project manager. They discovered that humans brought this tree from its native Asia to the region in the 19th cen­tury. Since then, the tree has become established as part of the local flora, with numerous trees grow­ing in different locations on the island, including ‘Roy Hill, Over the Peak, English Quarter and lower Hell’s Gate. The pupils also learned about the tree’s physical characteristics,
which would assist them in recognising it while in the forest.

After the presentation, the pupils ventured into the forest in Troy Hill to col­lect fallen seeds of the West Indian almond tree. They were tasked with selecting only 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 of which the outer flesh had been re­moved and with endocarps (the outer shell of the pit) exposed were to be collect­ed. While in the forest, the pupils also had the oppor­tunity to see how invasive animal species can nega­tively impact native and naturalised plants on the island. At the base of one of the trees was the home of a rat, that had collected most of the fallen seeds and eaten them. Because of this, very few seeds had been able to germinate.

Upon returning to the classroom, the pupils were guided by reforestation ranger Dwayne McKenzie on how to plant the seeds using soil and pots pro­vided by the reforestation project. Each pupil planted a seed and labelled their pot with the tree species, date of planting and their own name. The pupils will now care for the seeds and any young trees that grow from them until the end of the school year.

Eventually, the young trees will be returned to the reforestation project and planted at one of the reforestation sites that will be developed in the future.

The Daily Herald.

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