Doral launches program to encourage planting of trees
Residents and businesses are being encouraged to plant one of 12 native tree saplings alongside the green project flag in their yard that proclaims, `I hereby reclaim this land for nature.'
The Miami Herald (Posted April 15, 2008)Reclaiming Doral by planting trees
MiamiHerald.com - Miami,FL,USA
BY JULIE VILABOY TRUJILLO
Special to The Miami Herald
Doral residents could soon see green flags lining the business district that state, ``I hereby reclaim this land for nature.''
The Native Flags program is a green initiative aimed at promoting urban reforestation. Xavier Cortada, a local artist, developed the program to help restore native habitats for plants and animals in South Florida.
''The project encourages people to reclaim their front yard for nature. When developers came, they put lawns where trees would be. We need more bio-diversity to address issues of climate change among others,'' Cortada said. ``The art in this is that each individual is encouraged to plant a green flag in the front, marking his house as a green household that cares about the present-day reality.''
The project was introduced at the Doral Business Council meeting on April 8. Arlene Martinez, who chairs the DBC education committee, linked local schools with Cortada to introduce the program to the city. Student ''Green Ambassadors'' presented a green flag to Mayor Juan C. Bermudez, who commented, ``It's one of our top priorities to preserve the environmental health of the city of Doral.''
''Some of our green initiatives include the first environmental park that will have educational purposes. I am very proud of our Doral students for taking such a leadership role in the community,'' Bermudez said.
Forty native trees were donated for the occasion by Jungle Nursery, Golden Sun Tree Farms and Florida Nursery Growers Landscape Association to area schools and businesses to support reforestation efforts.
Michelle Wang, a junior at Ronald Reagan/Doral High School, said it is important to understand the necessity for going green. ''The environment is really fragile right now and if we don't start doing something, then the whole world will completely collapse,'' she said.
Anabella Smith of Zyscovich Inc., an architecture firm leading in green initiatives, presented ways to save energy, such as using a laptop and projector for presentations instead of paper, using recycling bins for junk mail, turning off electrical equipment when not in use, such as unplugging, not just turning off, computers, replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones and setting the air conditioner to 76 degrees.
Planting native trees also helps reduce the impact on the environment, Cortada said. ''Native trees are more resistant to hurricanes; they can evolve over time, they need much less water than exotic trees that drain our water resources, which means it creates a more sustainable environment,'' he said.
''A family is planting a tree today that 20 years from now will cast a shade in their neighborhood. There, I think, are the building blocks of our commitment to nature. In this case, you are building an ecosystem for birds and other animals. These are the true marks of citizenship. The campaign is not just about planting a tree but you put yourself as an ambassador when you plant the tree and the flag,'' Cortada said.
''My hope is that as that tree grows in their front yard their interest for the environment also grows,'' he said.
Claudia Aguirra, a junior and a ''Green Ambassador'' from Ronald Reagan/Doral High, School, was excited about the opportunity to be part of the occasion. ''There are so many important people in this room that, if they do something, even more people will do something about it. It is a priority to put an effort in their [the Native Flags] program,'' she said.