JIS News

The Forestry Department is looking to increase its number of local forest management committees, as it intensifies efforts to preserve the country’s forest cover.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Department and Conservator of Forests, Marilyn Headley, said that community members, who reside or work in close proximity to forested areas, play a critical role in the protection and preservation of these areas.
“We have been establishing, for the last 10 to 11 years, local forest management committees and these are persons or groups around the areas. We have one in Buff Bay; they come together, they are aware, they are protecting their area. They have meetings and other activities and they assist us in ensuring that they keep that area covered,” she explained.
She admitted however, that more needs to be done to increase community awareness. “We have eight of those groups and we want to establish more across the island, to ensure that our deforestation (is minimised),” she stated.
Miss Headley told JIS News that the agency’s public education and enforcement efforts have been critical to the process to reduce deforestation.
“Our whole move to increase awareness of illegal activities in the forested areas is stepping up because you don’t want persons to be there cutting out the forests,” she said.
“We have a legal and enforcement division, we have persons on the ground (that) are now called wardens and will be renamed to forests rangers, and we work very closely with the Island Special Constabulary Force (ISCF), which has an environment cadre of individuals,” she added.
The Forestry Department is the lead agency in Jamaica with responsibility for the management, protection and conservation of forest resources.
The department manages all the Government-owned forests, while providing technical support and information to private land owners with established forests on their lands.

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