The Governor and family were delighted to welcome members of the community to Government House on Saturday 6 November to assist with the planting of 70 trees to celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service.

Trees planted at Government House were kindly donated by members of the community, the Bermuda Botanical Society, the Tulo Valley Government Nursery, Cedarbridge Academy, Warwick Academy and The Garden Club of Bermuda.

The Governor said: “Inspired by the tradition of tree planting at Government House we decided to support the Bermuda Botanical Society’s ‘70 for 70’ campaign and invite the community to plant native/endemic trees in the grounds. It is also so significant for us that as well as being part of the Queen’s Green Canopy, this planting happened on Nature Day – a day of global action on climate change highlighting the importance of nature and sustainable land use highlighted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 21 (COP26). I hope we can work in partnership to support and contribute to further efforts across Bermuda to help create a greener – and bluer – future.”

The Governor’s husband, Mr Jacob Hawkins said, “Our family were delighted to join with volunteers from across the island, inspired by conservationists such as Mr David Wingate who kindly attended, to plant these trees which we hope will grow into an example of best practice in native and endemic planting for Bermuda. I’d like to especially thank the Bermuda Botanical Society and Government of Bermuda Parks Department for their support.”

Jennifer Flood, the President of the Bermuda Botanical Society, on describing the inception of the event said: “It was Alison Copeland who approached me about the Queen’s ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee’ campaign. I thought this was a great excuse to plant trees throughout the coming year and felt the ’70 for 70’ was a good catch phrase.

“I had thought kicking off the campaign with the planting of perhaps three cedars at Government House would be appropriate. Jacob Hawkins, the Governor’s husband, had other ideas! The creation of a native and endemic woodland on land previously covered with invasives become the goal.”

Those in attendance on Saturday morning included families, school groups and individuals and they came forward to assist with the planting after seeing a social media post by Government House calling for volunteers.

Evan Holmes Davis (age 12) and his cousin Juliet Law (age 7) attended with their grandmother, Felicity Holmes and said: “As a family we have been growing cedars and Olivewoods and we have donated one of our cedars to the Botanical Society for their tree planting project at Government House. We are planting trees to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Jan MacDonald, President of The Garden Club of Bermuda, said: “The Garden Club is looking forward to supporting the Bermuda Botanical Society with its’70 for 70’ initiative and looks forward to a year of planting at a variety of locations, using these occasions to raise awareness of the importance of plants and trees, especially in their relationship to human health, environmental health and climate change.”

Stephanie, Blaine and Carter Bernard volunteered to get involved in the ’70 for 70’ project when they read about it in the media. “It’s a great initiative! I’m all about nature and trees,” said Stephanie Bernard. “Everybody needs to do their little bit for the environment and nature.”

Bermuda’s leading and most senior environmentalist Dr David Wingate was on hand to provide advice and lend gravitas to the Government House reforestation project. He said: “I think it’s fabulous. The Government House grounds is the perfect place for this celebratory planting, and ideal to demonstrate how it is done. “It is a wonderful training exercise to learn how to plant a tree properly.”

Dr Wingate also highlighted part of the challenge – returning land to native and endemic forest that has been overwhelmed with invasive species like Brazil Pepper and Chinese Fan Palm.

“They grow out of control so there is no room for the natives and endemics,” he said, adding the situation can become so overwhelming that the land must be cleared using a bulldozer. “A major part of a reforestation is the clearing of these invasives,” he said.
Once the clearing of the invasives is accomplished, he recommended mixing species when reforesting an area with natives and endemics, singling out two of the many varieties of tree being planted on Saturday to describe.

“I’m delighted we have a very high percentage of Bermuda’s native Yellow Woods – we have five planted today.

“It is Bermuda’s rarest tree, with valuable timber – it is as valuable as gold and the wood is (appropriately) gold in colour.” He compared it with the Bermuda Cedar, whose timber by comparison is as valuable as silver, he said.

He also pointed to a Red Mulberry, a fruit-producing native tree, and described its benefits. “It is a winter deciduous, and so allows light to get to the ground for half the year which allows for a greater diversity of ground flora.”
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