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    Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Marc Panton, has called for greater public awareness of the need to reverse the environmental degradation occurring in the society.
    Giving the main address at a World Earth Day Exposition, at Castleton Gardens, St. Mary on Friday (May 8), Dr. Panton said there are too many instances of deforestation, bad farming practices and indiscriminate disposal of waste taking place in the country, which is causing a denudation of the environment, and destroying the natural beauty of the country.
    The function, which was sponsored by the Castleton Gardens Estate, featured the exhibition of a number of pamphlets, brochures and books on environmental protection and preservation, with support from several organisations, including the National Commercial Bank(NCB), the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), the Ministry of Health and Environment, the Forestry Department and the Coconut Industry Board.
    Dr. Panton told the function that Jamaicans have not fully grasped the importance of protecting the environment. He added that there were still too many instances of deforestation leading to soil erosion, climate change, global warming and reduction in the country’s plant and animal diversity.
    Noting that the country is also adversely affected by too many instances of bad farming practices, such as the disposal of fertilizer and chemicals in waterways, he said that the buildup of garbage in gullies must be discouraged in the strongest way possible, as continuation will prevent future Jamaicans from experiencing the beauty of the country.
    But, Dr. Panton expressed confidence that the country can recover from the environmental damage already done, and that events like the Castleton World Earth Day Exposition can play a significant role in reversing the trend.
    Declaring that individuals can take action in a number of ways to effect recovery, he said these efforts should include a number of basic initiatives, including preventing littering, conserving energy, reducing pesticide use, planting backyard gardens and encouraging environmental preservation habits.
    Also addressing the meeting was Superintendent of Gardens in the Ministry, Mr. Raymond Ramdon, who thanked the staff of Castleton Gardens for the work they are doing to maintain the garden. He assured the audience that the Ministry of Agriculture is seeking to improve the facility, to ensure that it remains an outstanding attraction.

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