Forestry Dept. Gets $4.6 Million to Restore Forest Cover


The Forestry Department has received a grant of $4.6 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to assist in restoring the island’s forest cover that was damaged during the passage of Hurricane Ivan on September 10.
An agreement for the grant was signed yesterday (November 10) by the Forestry Department, the USAID and the Ridge to Reef Project at the Forestry Department’s Head Office at 173 Constant Spring Road in Kingston.
Conservator of Forests, Marilyn Headley explained that the grant “is to assist the Forestry Department with the reforestation of the areas damaged during the passage of the hurricane”, with the main focus on the rehabilitation of those areas that warranted immediate attention.
She pointed out that preliminary estimates had put the rehabilitation cost at about $54 million, adding that assessments done after the hurricane revealed that more than 780 hectares of forest was damaged or destroyed, and that the Forestry’s four nurseries, and roads leading to the various forest areas suffered severe damage.
The $4.6 million, she explained would also be used to effect repairs to the nurseries located in St. Andrew, Manchester and St. Ann.
Restoration will include constructing germination beds, acquiring 100 kilogrammes of seeds from offshore suppliers, providing equipment and tools as well as repairing and upgrading the irrigation systems.
The grant will also allow for the production of 200,000 timber seedlings, including mahogany, mahoe and cedar. In his remarks, Chief of Party for the Ridge to Reef Project, Mark Nolan emphasized that the “production and care of timber trees is a superb investment for both farmers and Jamaica, as planting trees can serve as a pension for individuals and a source of needed income for unexpected expenses”.
Mr. Nolan added that planting trees would assist in maintaining the island’s water supply, reducing soil erosions and landslides as well as mitigating natural disasters.
Deputy Mission Director at the USAID, Dr. Kevin Rushing emphasized that Jamaica’s forest cover was critical in reducing the impact of storms and hurricanes that have recently plagued the island.
He stressed that it was important for Jamaica to sustain its forest cover in order to assist in mitigating natural disasters, which often plagued the region. He cited the damage done in Haiti, and the island’s vulnerability to storms and hurricanes, due to poor watershed management and degradation of its forest cover.

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