An official ceremony to raise awareness and sensitise citizens and youth on the importance of forests was held yesterday at Bel Air State Secondary School in the presence of the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Seeruttun and other eminent personalities. The event was organised by the Agro-Industry Ministry in the context of activities marking the International Day of Forests which is celebrated on 21 March every year.

The theme retained by the United Nations General Assembly for this year is: Forests and Sustainable Cities. The day marks the importance of forests and trees which with the store of carbon help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

In his address, the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Mahen Seeruttun, emphasised on the importance and role of forests for the environment, the society and the living habitat. He recalled the inauguration of an endemic garden last year in the yard of SSS Bel Air to mark the International Day of Forests which he said has been embellished and taken care of by the students which is a matter of pride for the college and the region. He lauded this initiative and added that this gesture bears testimony to the significance youth have given to forests in ones everyday living.

Minister Seeruttun, appealed to the population to participate actively in the endeavor to protect our forests by planting trees. He pointed out that Mauritius is faced with serious situation as it is left with hardly 25% of forests and 2% of indigenous plants. In view of the situation, he said that his Ministry has embarked on a project since three years to increase tree planting across the country with the objective of planting 500 000 trees in five years. As at date, he added 300 000 trees have been planted in various places.

For his part, the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, spoke of the daunting challenges in the wake of climate change effects on small island developing countries such as Mauritius in addition to the dangers our forests are facing as a result of deforestation, droughts and insect outbreaks. On this score, he encouraged one and all especially the youths to join hands in the initiative of planting more trees around the country.

Also present, the Minister of Financial Services, Good Governance and Institutional Reforms, Mr Dharmendar Sesungkur, highlighted the urge to protect the ecosystem and inculcate this culture to the coming generation. According to him, it is essential to educate the youth on the importance and contribution of forests in the ecosystem. To this effect, he called upon the young people to be active in the tree planting campaign upon which the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security has embarked for a better and greener ecosystem.

Source: Government of Mauritius