First Vice-President of the Collectivité Valérie Damaseau and Dutch-side Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Silveria Jacobs planted a gaïac tree in the garden of Hotel de la Collectivité on Tuesday.
MARIGOT–As previously publicised, the planting of a young gaïac (Guaiacum) sapling took place in the garden of Hotel de la Collectivité on Tuesday, Tourism Day, in the presence of First Vice-President of the Collectivité Valérie Damaseau and Dutch-side Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Silveria Jacobs.
The ceremony was held in conjunction with St. Martin Tourism Office, the Culture Service and representatives of the District Councils. The project “1, 2, Tree” to assist the island’s indigenous trees and plants recover after the hurricanes was also part of activities proposed for Tourism Month. Tree planting will continue in each of the six district councils.
Damaseau who is President of St. Martin Tourism Office, noted the gaïac is also known as the Tree of Life and one of the hardest most resilient woods in the world.
“Because our aim is to construct stronger, this is a symbolic and physical representation of the message we want to convey,” she said in her remarks. “To the District Councils and community at large we encourage you to help us make St. Martin beautiful again, one tree at a time.”
Minister Jacobs, wearing the SXM Strong T shirt, said while previously both sides of the island hosted St. Martin Day activities alternately, from now on St. Martin will be celebrated on both sides every year.
“All of us, whether we want to say our nationality is French or Dutch, at the end of the day who we are is pure St. Martin.”
She noted tree planting will also take place at the schools of the Dutch side. “Many historical trees were felled by Irma, some centuries old” she added. “Many of the schools had agricultural programmes that lost all their vegetation. We will start with the schools and then move into the villages and assist in beautifying what was lost. To me, the sight of no trees was most depressing. Broken houses can fix back faster than trees take to grow. We hate the dreaded rain, but when we look around, the hills look green again. We must thank God for that.”
Director of St. Martin Tourism Office Kate Richardson joined the elected officials and district council representatives in adding some soil for the gaïac tree.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/70832-gaiac-tree-planting-symbol-of-strength