The Forestry Department, during the last financial year, replanted approximately 275 hectares of land in continuation of its reforestation activities.
This was disclosed by Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, during his contribution to the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on July 24.
"An additional 522 hectares were maintained to support establishment. A total of approximately 220,000 seedlings were produced and distributed islandwide," he informed.
The Minister pointed out that only a third of Jamaica is still in forest, and of this portion, two thirds is owned by private individuals. In light of this, the agency has been seeking partnerships with small, medium and large landowners to participate in its private planting programme.
Under the programme, the participants are given seedlings, free of cost, as well as technical advice on the species to be planted. Currently there are approximately 3,000 participants in the programme, he said.
The Minister further noted that while new trees can be replanted, “we cannot plant a forest. They are irreplaceable." Therefore, a key strategy being employed by the agency to ensure sustainable forest management is the direct involvement of communities in the preservation and conservation efforts.
“Last year, three new local forest management committees were established, bringing to 11 the number of such committees operating islandwide,” he informed.
In the meantime, the Minister said since becoming an executive agency in 2010, the Forestry Department, which is mandated to protect and conserve forests on government land, has been evaluating and revising its processes to make it more efficient, effective, and customer oriented.
“In keeping with this improved mode of operation, I deemed it fit and have given my approval for the name of the organisation to be changed to the National Forestry Agency. I will soon be making a submission to Cabinet to this effect, and thereafter the public awareness and education programme will be launched,” Mr. Pickersgill said.