Planting on Virgin Gorda with kids from the Ciboney Centre of Excellence and, from left, Jassiem Maynard, Verne Wheatley, and Jahnai Caul.

Courtesy of BVI Tourist Board

In the days and weeks following the destructive rages of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the people of the hard-hit British Virgin Islands toiled to restore normalcy, focusing on power, water, and communication. Streets were cleared, roofing was repaired, beaches were cleaned, and hotels were reopened. But something was missing. The storms’ Category 5 winds denuded or uprooted vast swaths of vegetation across the islands, and months later, while the BVI has regained much of its former picture-perfection, the islands are less green than before. Beyond simple aesthetics, this deforestation has disrupted a delicate ecosystem and left the islands vulnerable to soil erosion.

The BVI Tourist Board’s new “Seeds of Love” program aims to fix that. Created in conjunction with the country’s Department of Agriculture and National Parks Trust, this charitable campaign aims to rally the population—and work with the BVI’s Caribbean neighbors—to replant indigenous trees and vegetation lost in the storms.

Donors can receive a special Seeds of Love packet by mail confirming the exact geographic coordinates of the tree they funded.

Director of tourism, Sharon Flax-Brutus, says, “The Ministry of Natural Resources and Labor, which is responsible for agriculture for the BVI, was working with St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who donated 3,000 fruit trees to the territory—so we wanted to piggyback on that initiative and launch it in the British Virgin Islands.” The Tourist Board supplemented the donation with the purchase of an additional 3,000 seedlings and saplings.

Residents of the BVI are doing the planting across the four main islands—and, of course, tourists are welcome to grab a shovel. For the rest of us, the program will accept donations directly or through the online charity platform Pledgeling, with funds used to purchase the most-needed flora, including coconut palms, white cedars, and mangrove seedlings. Donors can receive a special Seeds of Love packet by mail confirming the exact geographic coordinates of the tree they funded.

Arbor Day is Friday, April 27.

On Jost Van Dyke, product officer Arvan Hodge presents seedlings to the BVI’s one and only Philicianno “Foxy” Callwood, left.

Courtesy of BVI Tourist Board

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Matthew Phenix

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