Jamaica: Many reasons why the hills have lost there trees

When I lived in Jamaica my father and I used to take regular trips to
the mountains. On the drive up he would start telling me how things
used to be. A grassy hillside was once a forest and a silted over
stream once a raging river. The Blue Mountains are among my favourite
places in Jamaica and even as my father spoke of their decline, of
songbirds that no longer sang and paths that wound through lost forest
groves, I would still be struck by how beautiful the place is.

that barren hillside looked stunning set against the backdrop of the
mountains. I wouldn’t necessarily call my father an environmentalist
but he was deeply saddened by much of what he saw and he could always
draw the link between bad government policy and the degeneration of
the environment. An IMF deal that forced the government to stop
subsidizing kerosene had much to do with the deforestation as poor
people chopped down ancient hardwood for cooking fuel. Hillsides were
stripped of generations old forest to grow crops. No longer held in
place by well rooted trees, the soil would wash away leaving land
suitable only for pernicious ‘saw grass’, a grass that would leave the
unwary walker with lacerated calves from its serrated leaves. When we
arrived at the old family cottage (now my uncles farm) we would
usually take a walk down the hill to a small bridge. Here the sadness
in my father’s eyes would deepen. A small pool, choked with algae and
weeds, was once his favourite swimming hole. I would look at the
picturesque stone bridge. It wasn’t until I myself became a father
that I understood the real reason for his sadness. It wasn’t his loss
that saddened him it was mine. He was sad for the son who could never
appreciate the beauty he had seen. Recently someone asked me what
motivated my work at Dogwood Initiative and for some reason those
times spent with my father came to mind. BC too is a spectacular place
and always will be, but everyone I know has a story of some special
place that has been lost. Lost not only to them, but to the
generations to come. In the future I’m working to create an old man
can walk along the shore with his near adult son and talk about not
what has been lost but what’s still flourishing.

Posted via email from Deane’s posterous

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