Opposition Spokesperson on Housing, Water and Environment and Climate Change, Dr. Horace Chang, is calling for increased efforts to reforest watershed areas in Negril.
Speaking during his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 26, Dr. Chang said the replanting could be done under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).
“Agro forestry can be very lucrative so we can design programmes that will earn the people in Westmoreland good quality income and good quality of life. That is where JEEP can come in; employment and benefits will come in the medium-term,” he stated.
The Opposition Spokesperson on Environment also recommended that the government put an efficient management system in place for the protection of the Hope/Yallahs River watersheds.
“Those two river valleys provide a lot of the water for the Corporate Area but they have also seen considerable improper human settlement taking place. We need to put in place an efficient management system to introduce proper cultural, agricultural and forestry practices. We need to do relocation and proper settlement plan,” Dr. Chang said.
He also mentioned that urgent steps should be taken to define the regions of the Cockpit Country and to put an efficient manageable structure and a plan in place to bring economic activity to the area.
“The Cockpit Country is part of Jamaica’s limestone region. It is unique, it is peculiar and indeed, our Cockpit Country is the standard internationally. The Cockpit Country and the Blue Mountain Range are like the two lungs of Jamaica and if you damage your lung, you will have a reduced quality of life. That is why it is important to begin to define your Cockpit Country,” Dr. Chang stated.
The Cockpit Country, Jamaica's largest remaining contiguous rainforest, is one of the most naturally pristine and culturally significant landscapes on the island. It is home to 27 of Jamaica’s 28 endemic bird species and the giant swallowtail, the largest butterfly in the Americas.
The Cockpit region represents an essential portal into the roots of Jamaica’s earliest beginnings and future sustainability.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter