Jamaica News: The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has launched a subnational project aimed at restoring the hydrological and other physical functions of the Negril Great Morass in Westmoreland.
The launch was held at Couples Swept Away Resort in Negril, Westmoreland, on November 29.
The project, entitled ‘Integrated Water, Land and Ecosystems (IWEco): Biodiversity Mainstreaming in Coastal Landscape in the Negril Environmental Protection Area of Jamaica’, is to commence on January 2019 and end in 2022.
It is being funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with support from the Government at a combined cost of US$13 million.
NEPA is the executing agency, with other government agencies and stakeholders in Negril set to play key roles in the implementation of the project.
In his remarks at the launch, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon Daryl Vaz, said the project is a timely one.
“The biodiversity of the Negril environment protection area continues to be threatened by human-induced drainage of its wetlands, coastal development, unsustainable agricultural practices and the proliferation of informal settlements,” he stated.
He noted that with the development plans that are on stream for Negril, it is critical to ensure that the natural resources of the resort town and its biodiversity are not impacted negatively.
In this regard, Mr. Vaz disclosed that NEPA has been mandated by Cabinet to develop a “master plan” to guide the scope of development for Negril, adding that stakeholders will also play an active role in the formation of the development plans.
“The Government recognises that for Negril and its communities to be developed, focus has to be placed on the orderly development and conservation of the environment.
A recent Cabinet decision mandated the development of a master plan for what is being called the new Negril boundaries, since the Cabinet has no intention of changing the dynamics of the old Negril or what we call the original Negril,” Minister Vaz stated.
For his part, Chief Executive Officer and Government Town Planner at NEPA, Peter Knight, said the “project is expected to contribute to a reduction in the degradation of the peat resources, improve human health and improve water and air quality in Negril and its environs”.
He also called for support at the community level to safeguard the success of the subnational project.
The Negril Great Morass is a wetland that plays a vital role in the flood protection and removal of nutrients from water sources before they deposit into the seas.
It is also high on productivity, species diversity and is well known for its reserves of peat.
The IWEco project aims to enhance and re-establish native vegetation to provide a sustainable habitat for wetland fauna, eliminate issues that degrade the ecosystem functions, and implement institutional arrangements to ensure the long-term sustainability of the wetland biological resources.
Source: JIS News