June 10, 2010

Planting Trees to Celebrate World Environment Day 2010

by Jefferson Hall

The headlines are not good. A massive oil spill continues to foul the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and negotiations to curb the increase of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere are in disarray. However, on World Environment Day 2010, we remembered the old environmental movement call to action “Think Globally, Act Locally.”

Photo: HSBC volunteers in Panama joined STRI and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) on World Environment Day (5 June) to plant 2,500 trees over 2 hectares of land in Soberania National Park, Panama. HSBC-Panama CEO Ernesto Fernandes (center) and Arturo Cerezo (green shirt) from ACP were among the volunteers. Photo by Gian Montufar, STRI.

Despite the headlines and daunting environmental challenges the world faces, we need to remember that global action to address environmental problems starts with individuals and local groups. So on World Environment Day, we chose to do our part for the environment by planting trees. Our partners in the effort were 125 HSBC Bank employees in Panama.

As part of the Agua Salud Project—an ecosystem services research partnership between the Panama Canal Authority, the National Environmental Authority of Panama, HSBC Bank, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI)—we enjoyed a day outdoors, doing something positive for the environment. To help control the spread of aggressive invasive canal grass (Saccharum spontaneum) and restore tropical forest within the boundaries of Soberania National Park, we planted 2,500 trees of native species over 2 hectares of land.

Will it work? No one can tell for sure, but in a six-year-old forest planted by STRI’s PRORENA project, we’ve seen the return of countless species of birds, species of primates, and even footprints of a very large cat believed to be a Jaguar—none of which would be there without the forest.