Jamaica News: Some 14 million Euros will be spent by the Forestry Department to implement a National Forest Management and Conservation Plan, which is a 10-year blueprint for the building of a vibrant, sustainable and climate-resilient forest sector.
The plan is being financed under the Budget Support Programme of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Department and Conservator of Forests, Marilyn Headley, tells JIS NEWS that the support will help to execute the plan, which was completed in 2017 and approved by Parliament in February, 2018.
She informs that a number of priority areas have been identified for action over the next four years, which include strengthening the policy and legislative framework for the forest sector.
“We are going to look at our legislation. We are going to be looking at amending our Forest Act,” she says.
She notes that reforestation of degraded lands will be undertaken, with depleted hillsides and areas along the coastlines replanted.
In addition, the Department will work with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) on the mapping of mangroves and swamp forests, with the objective of producing a National Mangrove Management Plan.
Miss Headley tells JIS NEWS that the budgetary support will also help to accelerate the boundary verification programme for sustainable and inclusive forest management and identify a new boundary of the Cockpit Country.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, in a statement in Parliament last November, said that the designated boundary of the Cockpit Country Protected Area, comprising approximately 74,726 hectares, would be safeguarded under specific legislation.
“The Forestry Department has been given the job to go out there and do the groundwork, so we are doing all the boundary identification of the Cockpit Country,” Miss Headley notes.
Other areas of focus include improving watershed management planning within selected forest estates, and improvement of the National Forest Database to target privately-owned closed broadleaf and mangrove forests.
Miss Headley tells JIS NEWS that a number of forest-dependent communities will receive special attention. She notes that “a big chunk of the support programme” has been allocated for the development of livelihoods in those areas.
She explains that the plan is to launch about 40 livelihood projects across Jamaica, where people will undertake economic activity, which does not destroy the forests.
Miss Headley indicates that public education will also be strengthened to increase knowledge of climate change mitigation and forest conservation issues.
She says that the Forestry Department will be working with a number of other entities to implement the plan, including National Land Agency (NLA), Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Social Development Commission (SDC).
“It brings everybody together for the benefit of protecting our national resources,” she notes.
Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, in expressing support for the National Forest Management and Conservation Plan, says it will help to build the country’s resilience s against climate change.
She notes that Jamaica and the wider region “are vulnerable and troubled with risks of hurricanes. So it is important to focus on resilience to environmental disasters but also protect the environment.”
“We are happy to do what we can do to assist Jamaica to manage this better,” she adds.
The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main source of EU Development Aid for the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries.
Jamaica’s allocation for the EDF is €46 million with the focus areas of environment and climate change, justice, and public financial management.
Ambassador Wasilewska tells JIS NEWS that the EU “stands ready to assist Jamaica in trying to reach prosperity, improve its economic growth and create jobs for the people, improve the delivery and access to justice in a timely manner, improve health care and better protection from climate change and environmental disasters.”
Source: JIS News