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The Centre for Marine Sciences at the University of the West Indies has received US$100,000 to bolster its vital mangrove research initiatives.
The donation was made by MBJ Airports Limited, in collaboration with the Government and the Airports Authority of Jamaica (AAJ), during a ceremony held at the Discovery Bay Marine Lab, St. Ann, on September 19.
This financial injection should enhance the centre’s capabilities and further the understanding of these critical coastal ecosystems.
Mangroves are essential ecosystems that provide a wide range of ecological and economic benefits, including coastal protection, carbon sequestration, and serve as nurseries for marine life.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at MBJ Airports Limited, Shane Munroe, said the contribution forms part of the entity’s ongoing efforts to support scientific research and studies, aimed at preserving Jamaica’s mangrove areas.
He also stressed that the company is dedicated to balancing the airport’s development goals with the protection of the natural environment, aligning their undertakings with sustainable development principles.
“This donation of US$100,000 to the University of the West Indies Centre for Marine Sciences signifies our dedication to mitigate the environmental impact caused by the airport’s expansion activities. We are committed to assisting in the scientific study and research necessary for the rehabilitation of the mangrove ecosystem,” he said.
Mr. Munroe further noted that as part of a compensation plan for mangroves impacted by the recently completed Runway Extension and Associated Works project, the company successfully introduced a wetland revitalisation initiative with a primary focus on safeguarding and preserving precious wetland ecosystems.
He noted that eight and a half acres of the Chatham Pond mangrove wetlands to the west of the airport have been designated as conservation lands.
“[This will] provide ecological and social benefits to Montego Bay, including provision of a cleaner and less disturbed bird habitat and increased wetland fauna, which will result in larger numbers, due to cleaner and, again, a less disturbed habitat,” he said.
For his part, President and CEO of the AAJ, Audley Deidrick, emphasised the critical partnership with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to ensure environmental compliance, mitigation, sustainable development practices, with this donation playing a pivotal role in this commitment.
Director, UWI Centre for Marine Sciences, Professor Dale Webber, expressed gratitude for the donation, and noted that the funds will be used to purchase a Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen (CHN) Analyser for research purposes.
“We would like to thank MBJ and AAJ for the contribution, for the dedication, but most of all for the vision in this decision to support research,” he said.
“That CHN is going to bolster our ability to tell how much carbon there is in plants and soil in a number of places in a very quick time. It is a game changer. It is going to change how we are going to make decisions and how we can make predictions,” Professor Webber added.