Dominica is to participate in and benefit from a USD$100 million dollar programme to create green cities around the world.

On 31st May, Dominica joined the Green Cities Initiative, spearheaded by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is geared at improving the urban environment, strengthening urban-rural linkages, and building the resilience of urban areas.

Vanesa Prevost, project manager for the Plant It Up Roseau Green Cities Initiative told The Sun it is essential that steps be taken to make Roseau a greener city.

"We are in as much need of greening in the city like any other location. If you notice over the years, because of housing expansion, infrastructure projects, and natural disasters we have lost a lot of trees. Hence the need for trees within the urban area is very much important," she said.

To date, there are two government-sponsored programmes – the national reforestation and beautification project and the plant-one-million-trees project - focused on reforestation following the devastation and loss of forest cover caused by Hurricane Maria.

Prevost assured The Sun that the Green City Initiative compliments these ongoing nation projects.

"Any tree planting or tree growing programme would contribute to the overall reforestation goal for Dominica. It is just that it is within the limits of the city as opposed to out on the hillside or in a forest," Prevost said.

The Green Cities Initiative was launched worldwide in September 2020 and has a three-year lifespan to complete its mandate. Prevost says in the remaining year of the project, the plan is for Dominica to plant 800 trees and assist with greening in other areas.

"Our project has a specific time frame which is one year. We are to plant 800 trees throughout the city. Another component is vegetable gardens for schools," Prevost said.

This component will include the training of teachers and students in agricultural practices and healthy nutrition.

The Society for Historic Architectural Preservation and Enhancement (SHAPE) along with the Forestry Division are key players in this mission.

FAO funding will see trees come from multiple sources so that the end goal is attained.

"Apart from the Forestry Division, we are also getting trees from local nurseries as some of them have the species we are looking for," she said. "We are aiming to plant a wide variety of trees based on what the nurseries have in stock."

These trees will not only be ornamental but also flowering trees and fruit trees as an aspect of the Green Cities Initiative involves nutrition.

The Plant It Up Roseau Project Manager is hopeful that if all goes well, the Roseau leg of the Green Cities initiative can be replicated in the other Caribbean islands, or other parts of Dominica should the need, or want, arises.

"At the end of this FAO project, we will give feedback on lessons learnt and the overall experience. Therefore, people who want to do planting within small urban cities can have a blueprint," Prevost said.

Stakeholder participation is described as key to the success of the Plant It Up Roseau venture.

"Stakeholder consultation is important to find out what they want in their city in terms of green. We are finding more and more nooks in the city to take greenness. So, it is imperative to work with community groups and residents," Prevost said.

Roseau starts at Fond Cole in the north and spans south to the Castle Comfort River, east to Palm Grove and the Caribbean Sea is its western boundary.

"I would like to encourage people to participate in this project and when we plant the trees check them to make sure they are not being destroyed. We are all in this together and there are so many benefits to having trees."