Mérida, 23rd April 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelans participated in a national day of seed gathering to mark World Earth Day yesterday, while government figures and environmentalists highlighted the advances of the Venezuelan government’s Mision Arbol (Tree Mission) reforestation program.
The National Seed Gathering Day took place in national parks across the country to collect seeds for planting new trees as part of the Tree Mission. Staff from the Environment Ministry, the National Parks Institute, the Tree Mission, environmental activists, community members and schoolchildren participated.
Julio Cesat Piñango, coordinator for the Tree Mission in the Capital District and Vargas State, commented that the day was “contributing, responding and giving continuity to environmental conservation in front of global warming and climate change”.
Environment Minister Alejandro Hitcher informed press yesterday that the Tree Mission’s aim is to collect 12,000 kilogrammes of seeds this year, with 9,200 being collected so far. These will be used to plant 13,000 hectares of new forest.
“The organised people are recuperating our ecosystem damaged by deforestation… Through the Tree Mission we are recovering our natural resources for our well-being,” stated the minister, adding, “Socialism must be ecological, because it educates people to have a respect for life”.
The Tree Mission, initiated by the Venezuelan government in 2006, aims at community-led restoration, conservation and sustainable use of the South American country’s forests. 32,000 hectares and 45 million trees have since been planted as part of the initiative, according to Hitcher.
Central to the program are volunteer-run Conservation Committees, which receive public funding and are responsible for planting, growing and maintaining new tree plantations. There are currently 4,000 registered committees throughout the country, comprising around 40,000 active volunteers.
“Before the Bolivarian government arrived it was necessary to pay to look after the environment, now, no, now communities gather the seeds and plant the tree nurseries and plants,” said Tree Mission coordinator Piñango.
Five newly formed Conservation Committees also received 60,000 Bolivars (US $6,977) in government funding yesterday to support their participation in the Tree Mission program.