News Releases

Fifty trees for fifty years

For Release Upon Receipt - September 7, 2012

St. Augustine

“What we do to the environment today will be the legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren to inherit tomorrow.” This from Professor Clement Sankat, Principal and Pro Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine Campus, as the Campus commemorated the 50th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago’s Independence with a gift of green for the country’s future leaders. Professor Sankat made this statement on Monday 27th August, 2012, when Government officials and members of the Campus administration gathered at his office to witness a tree planting ceremony. The ceremony marked the beginning of The UWI’s commitment to plant one tree for each year that our country has been an independent nation.

“The UWI St. Augustine Campus and the nation of Trinidad and Tobago share a special bond,” a common devotion to the development of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, said Professor Sankat at the ceremony. Over the past 50 years, he continued, The UWI has fulfilled these expectations in its role as an educator, producing citizens who have been fundamental to the economic development of our country, and it will persist in this commitment in the years to come.  

The 50 trees that will be planted on the Campus are a part of this vow as they will be used not just for ornamental purposes, but also for teaching and research. As they grow, the trees will serve to educate both the Campus community and the wider public on the environment and sustainable development. This is so as “trees provide numerous benefits, including sequestering of carbon dioxide and providing oxygen; management of our watersheds and water for the future; providing shade, food and timber, as well as stabilizing the soil,” said Professor Sankat. He cited the recent disasters in Trinidad due to heavy rainfall and urged the audience to “take responsibility for our environment,” for the sake of future generations. 

Dr. Carlisle Pemberton, Dean of the newly established Faculty of Food and Agriculture, reinforced Professor Sankat’s point on the importance of trees to our country, adding that Trinidad and Tobago’s agricultural sector is vital to the rural population and, therefore, necessary for “rural poverty alleviation.” 

The ceremony also included greetings by the Honourable Ramona Ramdial, Minister of State in the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources; remarks by the Honourable Ganga Singh, Minister of the Environment and Water Resources; and closing remarks by Dr. Shobha Maharaj, Acting Curator of the National Herbarium at The UWI St. Augustine Campus.   

Afterwards, guests made their way to the grounds of the Office of the Campus Principal where they witnessed the symbolic planting of three trees – the first of the fifty.  

Among the variety of trees that will be planted on Campus are Balata (or known by its scientific name, Manilkara bidentata), Lay Lay (Cordia collococca), Soap Seed (Sapindus saponaria) and Serette (Byrsonima spicata). These and the other types of trees have multiple uses, including for food, construction, jewellery making, and even dentistry as the Balata tree is used to make root canal fillings.  

For more information, please contact the Office of the Campus Principal at  or at (868) 662-2002 ext. 82182, 83182.

About UWIOver the last six decades, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged University with over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest and most longstanding higher education provider in the English-speaking Caribbean, with main campuses in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, and Centres in Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Christopher (St Kitts) & Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent & the Grenadines. UWI recently launched its Open Campus, a virtual campus with over 50 physical site locations across the region, serving over 20 countries in the English-speaking Caribbean. UWI is an international university with faculty and students from over 40 countries and collaborative links with over 60 universities around the world. Through its seven Faculties, UWI offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Pure & Applied Sciences, Science and Agriculture, and Social Sciences. (Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)