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Students Inspired to Plant Trees for the Future

Educating children or students about the importance of planting trees wherever possible is our responsibility, so they grow up knowing what they must do to leave a clean planet for the future.
Ministry of Forestry Permanent Secretary Pene Baleinabuli said the Ministry had sped up the coordination momentum of Fiji’s tree planting revolution, thanks to the commitment from communities, stakeholders in the forestry sector, private sector, academia, non-government organisations, religious groups, landowners and now schools.
Mr Baleinabuli said the planting of trees was in line with Government’s tree-planting initiative, aiming to achieve a target of 30 million trees in 15 years.
Additionally, tree planting is a great way to nurture positive attitudes of students towards environmental awareness, increasing student interest in their local environment and achieve academic goals. Spending time around trees and in nature also makes us healthier and even improves our students' academic performances. 
It may be due to the exposure of the participants to trees and nature that it has these kinds of effects on mental health. Each school tree planting provides educators with the opportunity to inspire school administrators, faculty and students to effect positive change at their schools and, in turn, their communities.

Increasing interest
Over the past month, schools along the Suva – Nausori corridor have been contributing towards this initiative. Twenty schools have confirmed interest in planting trees in the coming weeks, and at least 3000 seedlings of native, fruit and sandalwood will be used.
"Our job is to convince the people of Fiji and educate them, from the children to the elderly, and that is why our presence in the communities at all levels is very important," Mr Baleinabuli said.
"We can engage them to plant, to maintain the trees planted and take ownership of the wellbeing of these trees."
In schools, during the course of the planting, the Ministry staff teach the students to identify the different native species as most of them have little knowledge about our native species. These trees will eventually help moderate temperature and muffle noise, while improving air quality around schools by absorbing some airborne compounds that could be harmful to students and staff, and by giving off oxygen. Once mature, the fruit bearing trees can be a source of vitamin for students as well as attracting a diversity of fauna that children can study and appreciate.
Nabua Secondary School head girl, Susan Malaefono, has participated in more than one planting programme. She said that forests stand as a vital defence against climate change and biodiversity loss and provide livelihoods for millions of people across the world. Knowing that forests are under threat, she said it was her duty as a young person to help in the Government’s reforestation efforts
“I believe that we are planting trees around our school compound for the future students who will attend this school. These trees will act as shade and at the same time improve the quality of air around them. We must share this important knowledge with others,” Ms Susan said.
Lelean Memorial School principal, Mohammed Feroz, said that getting students involved in the planting programme gave them the confidence to take charge of protecting the environment for a sustainable future.  
"The significance of involving the students who are here with us is to guarantee that they take ownership by believing in what they are doing and caring for the trees.
Last month, the British High Commission in Fiji also included student representatives from six schools around Suva in a tree planting programme.
The programme was in line with The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC), a unique tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, which invited people from across the United Kingdom and the world to "Plant a Tree for the Jubilee".
Deputy British High Commissioner to Fiji, Paul Welsh, said involving students in initiatives like this was important because educating the young minds to embrace the concept of environmental conservation and sustainability would make them view things from a different perspective.
With a focus on planting sustainably, Mr Welsh said: "We're pleased that we were able to get younger individuals here today because it's critical that we involve younger people in initiatives that they may become more involved with as they get older. And it will be you, as you mature into adults and leaders in your respective fields, who will have to cope with some of the effects of global warming.  
“I think that it is the responsibility of the older generation to do all that’s possible to mitigate global warming, and planting trees is one method to do so.”
Schools that have so far participated in the planting programme in the past month include St Marcellin Primary School, Lelean Memorial School, Nabua Secondary School, Nukui District School, Pt Vishnu Deo Memorial School, Gospel Primary School and Suva Grammar School.
Similar planting programmes will be held in the other divisions.

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