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  • The Government is working to ensure that the island’s forest reserves are increased and preserved through an “aggressive” reforestation programme.
  • This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, during a stakeholder consultation on the draft National Forest Management and Conservation Plan (NFMCP), at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, yesterday (March 21).
  • This is to be achieved under the draft National Forest Management and Conservation Plan, which, the Minister said, “provides a blue print for the adoption of sustainable forest management at the community level, taking into account sustainable land use, changing land use, and forestry management and interventions”.

The Government is working to ensure that the island’s forest reserves are increased and preserved through an “aggressive” reforestation programme.

Specific focus will be placed on closed broadleaf forests which have been diminishing over the years.

This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, during a stakeholder consultation on the draft National Forest Management and Conservation Plan (NFMCP), at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, yesterday (March 21).

There are approximately 88,000 hectares of closed broadleaf forests remaining.

Of this, nearly 65,000 hectares have been declared forest reserves with protected status under the Forest Act, 1996.

These primary forests are found in the Blue Mountain Forest Reserve, which encompasses both the Blue and John Crow Mountains, and in the Cockpit Country Forest Reserve.

They contain broadleaf trees with interlocking crowns (closed canopies).

The Minister noted that between 1998 and 2013, Jamaica lost 3,594 hectares of broad leaf forests.

Therefore, he said that over the next five to 10 years, the focus of the Forestry Department will be to ensure that the percentage of remaining closed broadleaf forests is not diminished in any way, and to ensure that the forest cover is restored through replanting and other initiatives.

“These actions have to be underpinned by a sustainable national forest conservation and management plan that seeks to balance the ecological, social, economic and cultural aspects of our forest use,” he added.

This is to be achieved under the draft National Forest Management and Conservation Plan, which, the Minister said, “provides a blue print for the adoption of sustainable forest management at the community level, taking into account sustainable land use, changing land use, and forestry management and interventions”.

“It sets out holistically the utilisation of forests in ways that retain their biodiversity, productivity and their potential to fulfil ecological, economic, cultural and social functions now and for generations to come,” he said.

In addition to the development and protection of the forestry sector, a key aspect of the plan are strategies to build the country’s climate resilience.

“The plan is a welcome addition to a host of other documents, including the Protected Areas System Master Plan, Forest Policy Green Paper and the new draft Protected Area Policy, which lend scope and teeth to the process of regulating and managing our environment,” the Minster said.

The document is 10-year plan for the forestry sector which outlines key activities that will be undertaken by the Forestry Department to help build a vibrant, sustainable and climate-resilient forest sector.

A document incorporating stakeholder input is to be completed by March 31. It will then be handed over to the portfolio Minister, whose team will do a final review before it goes to Cabinet, after which it will go to Parliament to be approved.

This was the sixth and final consultation on the plan. Previous consultations were held in Mavis Bank in St. Andrew; Port Antonio, Portland; Montego Bay, St. James, Clark’s Town, Trelawny; and Chapelton, Clarendon.

The public has until Friday, March 24 to submit feedback to fdinfo@forestry.gov.jm or by mail to the Forestry Department’s headquarters in Kingston or its zonal or regional offices.

The document is available electronically on the Forestry Department’s website, www.forestry.gov.jm, or the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation’s website, www.mwh.gov.jm.

Hard copies of the plan are also available for reading at all parish libraries and select branch libraries across the island as well as at all of the Forestry Department’s zonal and regional offices.

The revision of the National Forest Management and Conservation Plan is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Climate Economic Analysis for Development, Investment and Resilience (CEADIR) project.

Today’s event also coincided with the observance of International Day of Forests, which celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests.