Dart restarts 2020 Tree Give

Late last year, Dart announced a donation of 366 trees — one for each day of the 2020 leap year — to the Cayman Islands. While the pandemic put a temporary pause on plantings, Dart Manager of Community Development Dominic Ross says the project is restarting in earnest.

“Since launching the Tree Give, we have donated 121 trees to a variety of local organisations, including schools, churches, charities and parks,” Ross says. “Our goal is to ensure the remaining 245 trees are planted where they will enrich lives now and for future generations.”

Sourced from Dart’s nursery, the donated trees are a variety of native, ornamental and fruit-bearing species, ranging in size from three to 10 gallons. The first donated trees were planted by Dart staff volunteers at the Airport Park in George Town in partnership with the Cayman Islands Government's Recreation, Parks and Cemeteries Unit. 

“We planted 11 trees at the Airport Park, including native species like broadleaf and whitewood,” Ross says, noting Dart donated an additional 10 silver buttonwood plants as hedging, separate to the Tree Give.

Another recipient of trees from the Dart initiative is the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, which received 30 native trees to add to its landscaping at the historic Mission House in Bodden Town and the Blue Iguana Conservation facility. The donation includes species such as Capparis ferruginea, Capparis flexuosa, Conocarpus erecturus and Citharexylum spinosum.

National Trust Historic Programmes Manager Stuart Wilson says the donation will benefit visitors to both sites, as well as the native fauna that live there.

“Part of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands’ mission is to protect environmentally sensitive, native plants and animal species for present and future generations,” Wilson says. “The animals that thrive on these trees as a part of their natural habitat will benefit greatly by their addition to the sites. Furthermore, shade and native food sources are essential for our blue iguanas and, as some of the trees we will be receiving from Dart are in fact, fruit-bearing trees, the blues will be able to enjoy their seasonal bounty.”

Another early recipient was the International College of the Cayman Islands, which received 20 trees. College President Byron Coon says he's appreciative of the donated trees, which beautify the campus and give back to the planet.

"The trees that were planted on the ICCI campus represent nature, life, prosperity, growth and stability," he says.


Ross says schools will remain a focus of the Tree Give going forward, noting that Dart is offering each local preschool, primary and high school the opportunity to request a donation of up to 10 trees. So far, trees have been designated to the Cayman Learning Centre, the Cayman Prep and High School primary campus, Savannah Primary School and Sprogs Garden Playschool.

“We are pleased to be partnering with the student leaders of Protect Our Future to organise tree plantings for the remaining local schools and ensure each of these trees is counted towards the Caribbean’s regional goal of 1 million trees in 2020,” Ross says.

Cayman Prep and High School student and Protect Our Future member Marleigh Smith says she is looking forward to the opportunity to engage with other students to plant trees.

“We are happy about starting the new school year with this project and partnership because it will help start things on a good note by getting students excited about supporting the environment and mitigating climate change,” Smith says. “These tree-planting events will not only promote a sense of community within individual schools, but they will also help make connections between all the schools on island."

Dart is also continuing to work closely with the Recreation, Parks and Cemeteries Unit and Cabinet Office cross-government campaigns to align its Tree Give with ongoing and planned government initiatives.

“In addition to the original donation at Airport Park, another five sea grape trees were donated to the Recreation, Parks and Cemeteries Unit to be planted at the South Sound boardwalk,” Ross says. “Our goal is to ensure each tree is placed where it can thrive and be enjoyed by generations to come, so having salt-tolerant species for this planting was important.”

Requesting a tree

Requesting a tree donation can be done on Dart’s website. A simple, one-page application form is available online for downloading and may be submitted via email.

The tree donation request form offers applicants the opportunity to indicate their preferred number, type and size of trees. Dart’s nursery then does its utmost to accommodate each request given its available inventory.

“Even with the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, we are looking forward to completing our 2020 Tree Give and designating every remaining tree before the end of the year,” Ross says.


This article appears in print in the September 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times.