Feature: Cubans plant trees to mark World Environment Day

2021-06-06 03:35:48 GMT2021-06-06 11:35:48(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

by Yosley Carrero

HAVANA, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Cubans across the country on Saturday marked World Environment Day with tree planting initiatives.

In Havana, green enthusiasts and environmental activists gathered at the gardens of Atares Castle, abiding by physical distancing guidelines and COVID-19 safety protocols.

Among participants was 33-year-old Roxana Calzada, who works at Havana's Office of the City Historian.

"I strongly believe that planting trees could very much contribute to raising awareness about environmental protection," she told Xinhua. "Trees can better help the planet breathe. I am happy to be here."

Wearing an N-95 mask, she was accompanied by her son Leonardo Arias, whose dream of planting a tree came true.

"I like Cuban trees. This is very pretty. I feel excited about planting my first tree," said the five-year-old.

In recent days, Cubans have planted hundreds of trees across the country's neighborhoods and communities as part of a national campaign to create greener public spaces.

Alejandro Palmarola, president of the Cuban Botanical Society, told Xinhua that planting native trees in urban areas could make cities and towns more resilient amid challenges posed by climate change.

"We need to plant trees, and to do it in the right way," he said. "We are giving people tools for them to understand how cities are being built nowadays."

"For every tree cut down, five shall be planted," he added.

In keeping with the United Nations' guidelines, the island has adopted measures to restore degraded and destroyed ecosystems as well as to safeguard biodiversity.

Currently, 33 percent of Cuban soil is covered by forest, according to official figures.

Over the past few years, state institutions have made joint efforts to save trees from damage caused by oil pollution, hurricanes and tropical storms.

In addition, schools, institutions and the island's Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment encourage people to participate in tree-planting initiatives.

Tatiana Fernandez, director of projects at Havana's Office of the City Historian, said that tree planting would continue to be organized to mark World Environment Day in the coming years.

"The outcome of this activity has been very positive," she said. "We want to leave a trace with what we are doing. It is all about planting trees to provide the city with more oxygen."

"This is good for the country, for the world, and for all," she added. Enditem