The cutting down of the mango tree in front of A.M. Edwards Medical Centre in The Bottom was prevented at the last moment by concerned citizens, who believed the tree was part of the cultural heritage, and those who simply did not see the need to dispose of the tree. This writes The Daily Herald. Archaeologist and tree expert Jay Haviser, who was flown in from St. Maarten, established Saturday that the tree posed no threat to the road or nearby cisterns. Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) started a petition last week to save the tree, and in one hour more than 200 signatures were gathered.
During a meeting held Friday between Commissioner of Health Bruce Zagers, Director of Saba Health Care Dr. Joka Blauboer and SCF, it was decided to contact Haviser, who was flown in at the very last moment. Haviser, born in Florida, has spent most of his life in the Caribbean. He was the national archaeologist for the former Netherlands Antilles, and nowadays is director of the archaeological centres of Bonaire, St. Maarten and Saba. Haviser examined the now famous mango tree on Saturday and could not find any reason to justify its removal. According to Haviser, there was no threat to the road or the nearby cisterns. Also the initial argument of the tree tilting and eventually falling over was not confirmed by Haviser. “It will take a big storm for this mango tree to fall and there will be many more fallen trees all over the island when this happens” Haviser explained.
He did notice the tree had a tilt in its stem which would explain the concerns of the tree eventually falling. Therefore, the tree was substantially trimmed down on Saturday, especially on the side which changed the centre of gravity and would cause it to grow in a more upright position. Haviser expressed his thanks to everyone who participated, especially SCF and Commissioner Zagers. He was also pleased with Blaauboer’s cooperation. The director of the Medical Centre was present all day Saturday, and agreed that trimming the tree would be the best solution.
SCF will now monitor the tree for six months. Haviser will hand over an official report by the end of this year. Apart from presenting his findings, he also promised to attach a copy of the Historic Tree Policy, which was adopted by the Government of St. Maarten in 2008. Haviser’s hopes are that Saba would implement such a policy as well. In his official report, he would also suggest organising a national Tree Day on Saba. “We are talking about far more than one tree. This event could represent a new era in which citizens stand up for their cultural heritage,” said Haviser in calling for a “Mango Revolution.” National cultural awareness is also the goal of one of Haviser’s other projects on Saba. Saba Archaeological Centre Sabarc together with Commissioners Zagers and Chris Johnson, are planning to open a museum in Windwardside to compliment the already existing Harry Johnson Museum. “This new interactive museum will give visitors a more scientific approach to Saba’s history,” said Haviser, who is expecting the museum to open its doors in the first quarter of 2015.