JIS News

A total of 15 entities have been short listed for a share of the $43 million in project financing, which is being provided by Ministry of Agriculture and Lands through the Forest Conservation Fund, for the implementation of nature conservation projects.
Executive Officer of the Fund, Rainee Oliphant, told JIS News that the short listed candidates have been asked to write proposals for their projects, which must be submitted by June 1.
An Oversight Committee will then decide on the projects, which will obtain funding. “We will be dispersing funds.in mid to late July,” she disclosed, adding that this will be done after the Fund Managers and the successful entities have signed agreements.
A total of 45 entities comprising non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations, local forest management committees and educational institutions, had submitted the required concept notes by the February 28 deadline, explaining their projects. According to Miss Oliphant, the 15 entities that successfully made it to the second stage have proposed to undertake projects that will focus on agro-forestry initiatives, establishment of nature trails, reforestation activities and research into endemic plants and other species. “It was wide and varied,” she noted.
She told the JIS News that the projects under consideration ranged from short to long-term, and those considered long-term, that is, for a duration of more than three years, would receive the bulk of the money. “The majority, 80 per cent of that $43 million, will be going to long-term projects, for example, reforestation of tree cover and building livelihoods for communities.”
She noted that with the total cost of the projects exceeding the $43 million available in the Fund this year, “we suggested that some project writers seek funds from other (available) sources to match what the Forest Conservation Fund offers.”
In the meantime, the Fund Managers will be offering training in capacity building to some NGOs and community-based groups, which have requested assistance to upgrade their eligibility status.
“Lots of these entities do not have the necessary expertise .to fully implement their projects,” Miss Oliphant explained, “so we are also looking at a few projects in terms of building the capacity of those entities, which we hope, within a year or two, will then be able to apply for funding to implement a particular project.”
Launched in 2006, the Forest Conservation Fund is the result of a debt-for-nature swap agreement between the governments of the United States (US) and Jamaica, which will result in the cancelling of some US$16.5 million in debt to the US and the money used to protect and manage the island’s nature conservation reserves and national parks. The money will be paid into the fund in tranches over a 19-year period.
The Fund, which is being administered under the Jamaica Forest Conservation Act, would target the Cockpit Country Forest Reserve, the Blue and John Crow Mountains Forest Reserve and National Park, the inland portions of the Negril Protected Area, the forested areas of the Dolphin Head Mountains as well as the Rio Minho, Rio Cobre and Black River Watersheds.

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