The Forestry Department is collaborating with Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) to strengthen property tax incentives offered to private landowners who declare their land a forest reserve or a forest management area.
Senior Research Officer at the Department, Brahim Diop, told JIS News that the incentive now being offered, in the form of a tax remit, seeks to encourage individuals who own forested lands to maintain it.
“We want to try and [offer additional] incentives, so those persons who have forest cover right now would be encouraged to keep their land under forest,” he said.
This initiative is part of an overall drive by the Forestry Department to have more authority over the island’s forests.
Mr. Diop said Jamaica has 40 per cent forest cover, a quarter of which is owned by the Government.
“The rest is private land. This means that if a landowner should decide to change the land use from forestry to agriculture, it would drastically change the forest cover matrix in the island,” he said.
He pointed out that the Forestry Department is looking to have more authority over what persons can do with trees on their property as well as be more involved in the issuing of development orders.