National Tree Day, March 22nd 2010 Speech By Director of Tourism, Regina LaBega

The following is a speech in connection with National Tree Day, March 22, 2010 by Director of Tourism, Regina LaBega.

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Honorable Members of the Executive Council,


Staff and students,

Invited guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.


When the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau first partnered with the St. Maarten Archeological Center (SIMARC), it was not just an initiative to enhance public-private partnership; it was in fact, in recognition of the need for a collaborative effort to create awareness of the importance of trees in our environment. We jointly planted trees at various locations to stress the point that progress and environmental conservation are not enemies. That was last year. Those trees that we planted then continue to grow today and are a daily reminder that if we work with Nature, Nature will work for us. This is the main message we can draw from the theme of this year’s National Tree Day: "Youth and Nature Working Together".

Youth and Nature, indeed, are natural allies. Our youth are obviously much more environmentally conscious than their parents. We see this manifested, for example, during clean up campaigns to clear our beaches of debris. We see it in the membership of SIMARC itself.

Leader of Government, Commissioner William Marlin, in his New Year’s Address, set the policy goals for the "greening" of St. Maarten and the care of our "most valuable natural assets" when he said, "… as custodians of the environment, we will all be involved in protecting the natural riches with which nature has generously blessed us."

He added: "We owe it to those to whom we will leave our island to ensure that our environment is an enhanced legacy." He was, of course, referring here to our youth.

On this National Tree Day, our youth will be actively involved in planting the flamboyant tree in the environment where they function the most: at their schools. Six secondary schools have been chosen for this event, and it is hoped that this would be seen as an example for other schools and youth organizations to follow.

There is no doubt that tree planting has a positive impact on our environment. It also provides an opportunity for our youth, community groups and all residents to come together for an event that would enhance the beauty and future sustainability of the environment. Planting the flamboyant tree today helps to draw further attention to this national symbol – also known as Emancipation Tree – as an acknowledgement of our need to emancipate ourselves from the self-destructive practice of cutting down trees without replacing them, thus endangering our future generations.

May the trees we plant today grow into strong, healthy, fruit-bearing trees for all of us.

I thank you.