Insights in reforestation outreach on Saba and Statia

ReforeStatia and ReLeaf Saba are St Eustatius’ and Saba’s respective reforestation projects aiming at reducing erosion to protect water quality and reef ecosystems. Aside from growing and planting trees the two projects conduct regular monitoring and outreach activities. Over the past year, the two teams have been organizing various events and activities around the topics of reforestation and local flora. Embracing a multifaceted approach, these initiatives have prioritized engagement with youth, utilizing playful and educational methods to instill environmental stewardship from an early age (in-school lessons, field trips to the ReforeStatia Nursery and foster care program). Moreover, they have extended their reach through various public events, ensuring that the projects are known by the community.

To present the project to the public, ReforeStatia organized a press conference, providing a platform to introduce their mission and address questions from the community, fostering understanding of the challenges and solutions related to reforestation on the island.

Press Conference by ReforeStatia (Adam Mitchell) to introduce the new phase of the Reforestation Project and the start of ReLeaf Saba. Thanks to our funders (RESEMBID and other EU Partners, we were able to plant and protect more.

ReforeStatia extended their outreach to the younger generation,first by hosting a field trip for every group at the 4 primary schools on the ReforeStatia Nursery. The children had turns re-potting plants, touring the food forest and the nursery and understanding the project and the vital role trees play in the local ecosystem. Altogether, nurturing a sense of environmental responsibility among students.

Collecting seeds during field trip to ReforeStatia Nursery.

Teachers from Group 5-8 collecting ‘foster care’ plants on behalf of their class.

Group 1&2 teacher using her foster care card during the time her class had the sapling.

ReforeStatia further mobilized the community for tree planting events. In November, the team organized ReforeStatia Day where the public planted 300 trees in a newly fenced plot.

ReforeStatia attended Taste of The Culture, a monthly fair where we handed out trees to the community giving visibility for our ‘Adopt-a-Tree’ initiative. This project allows community members to take home much requested fruit trees to plant in their backyard, increasing the greenery of their homes. The effort continued during Statia Doet 2024 where the community came together to plant trees at the Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden, among other activities.

ReforeStatia Adopt a Tree Initiative at a popular community event – Taste of The Cultures ~ TOTC.

Planting session day with ReforeStatia during Statia Doet 2024

ReLeaf Saba initiated its outreach effort by working with the youth as the project started. Throughout the school year, the Junior Ranger and Snorkel Club after-school programs regularly visited the nursery growing their own trees from seeds. These visits provided valuable opportunities for the children to enhance their understanding of tree identification, utilizing their senses to observe leaf shapes and bark colors often with the guidance of Saba Conservation Foundation’s trails expert, James Johnson. Guided by the ReLeaf Saba team they were able to reach all the milestones of growing a tree from choosing their seeds, planting the seeds, re-potting their seedlings, tree care and additional activities such as making seed bombs. These hands-on experiences not only fostered practical skills but also deepened their comprehension of a tree’s role within an ecosystem.

The Releaf Saba team also ran a field trip for the local primary school during which we discussed the benefit trees bring to people and nature. The education session was followed by a practical activity, the students planted seeds, taking them home to watch them grow into young trees.

They also hosted an Adopt-a-Tree booth during the closing event of the Saba Bird Fest organized by the Foundation in late September. Subsequently, in October, the project leader delivered a presentation at Sea & Learn Saba, an annual event dedicated to enriching public understanding of the environment through interactions with scientists and experts.

ReLeaf Saba team with giving away trees to create a food forest for a local restaurant.

These outreach efforts underscore our joint commitment to fostering environmental awareness and stewardship within our community. By engaging with both youth and adults through hands-on activities, educational sessions, and interactive events, we strive to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the vital role that trees play in sustaining our local environment. Through continued collaboration and outreach initiatives, we aim to inspire a collective dedication to preserving and protecting our natural environment, restoring forests for generations to come.

Follow us our socials at FB, STENAPA ReforeStatia FB Group, IG (Statia) and FB, IG (Saba). Sign up to ReforeStatia’s newsletter to see the latest updates on the project! Contact us HERE to plant trees on erosion-prone areas with ReforeStatia.

This project is supported by RESEMBID, funded by the European Union, and implemented by Expertise France.  RESEMBID is a 47-project Programme that drives sustainable human development efforts in 12 Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) – Aruba, Anguilla, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Montserrat, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Barthélemy, Sint Maarten and Turks and Caicos.