July 9, 2004 – The University of the Virgin Islands received accolades at the 9th annual Caribbean Urban Forestry Conference held in mid-June at the Westin St. John Resort.
According to a UVI release issued on Thursday, The St. Croix campus captured the Project Award for its grounds restoration, and Carlos Robles won the Outstanding Professional Award for his work with the UVI Cooperative Extension Service.
Peter Abrahams, director of UVI's business and facilities services, said the university started upgrading the St. Croix campus with a grand plan three or four years ago. Since money is always in short supply, improvements have been made gradually.
"The place is really starting to look nice," he said.
The staff has planted indigenous trees that do well in a tropical climate, bought better equipment and looked for ways to conserve water. For example, the gardeners use rain run-off from a parking lot and other recycled water to keep plants green.
While this is good for UVI, it's also good for the community, Abrahams said, since residents often use the grounds for kite flying and other activities.
Abrahams hopes eventually to construct walking paths to encourage further community use of UVI's grounds. "We want to have a symbiotic relationship between the community and UVI," he said.
The project was accomplished through grants, donations and input from the landscaping committee. Staff also restored the drive lined by royal palm trees that welcomes visitors to the campus — the only such drive in the territory.
Robles, a 23-year UVI veteran, is one of only a few certified arborists in the territory. He conducts forestry workshops, seminars and demonstrations for home gardeners, public and private agencies, and landscape maintenance crews.
Since 2002, Robles has administered a U.S. Department of Agriculture urban forestry grant. He also is involved in the Remarkable Big Trees of the Virgin Islands project.
He was out of the office and could not be reached for comment.
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