A total of 215 hectares (531 acres) of watershed areas have been replanted utilising 113,914 seedlings, under the Local Forest Management Committee (LFMC) project.
The initiative aims to involve communities in co-managing forested areas, while building their resilience to the risks that come with natural hazards.
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Luther Buchanan, speaking at the launch of the Smithfield LFMC in Cascade, Hanover, on March 28, said through the project, residents become stakeholders in the preservation of the protected forests of the island.
“This is exactly the type of community involvement project that is needed to foster awareness about the environmental importance of our forests,” he stated.
Mr. Buchanan said the government is fully committed to sustainable development and preservation of the environment and engaging communities in these efforts through public education and awareness.
“Building public awareness is critical in order for us, as a nation, to understand the environmental issues facing us, as they have implications for the nation’s development, disaster risk reduction, the preservation of natural resources, sustainable land management and proper planning,” he stated.
“How we use the land, including our trees, impacts on the quality of our fresh water supply, which has an impact on our environment and, in turn, affects climate change,” Mr. Buchanan added.
The Cascade LFMC is the 11th such entity to be established in the island. Already three LFMCs have been formed in the Cockpit Country; one in Northern Rio Minho in Clarendon; one in the Pencar Watershed in St. Mary; one at Dolphin Head in Hanover; one in Spring Bank in St. Thomas; one in Buff Bay in Portland and two in St. Andrew, at Dallas Castle and Constitution Hill.
The LFMC project is being implemented through funding from the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group. The committees are part of the EUR 13 million Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Reduction Project, which falls under the GCCA’s work in the ACP Group.
The project is managed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), and is being implemented by the Forestry Department, National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Environmental Management Division of the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, and the Meteorological Service.
There are more than 100 gazetted forest reserves in Jamaica.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter