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With the continued expansion of urban developments across the country, the Forestry Department has been putting in place several projects and initiatives to ensure these areas are adequately greened and environmentally friendly.

This was disclosed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Department and Conservator of Forests, Ainsley Henry, who noted that these interventions are vital to preventing environmental degradation in urban areas.

“As active members of the Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, we are [always] looking at ways and means to facilitate the greening of urban spaces as well as the incorporation of trees in design and in ordinary living,” he said.

He noted that among the initiatives is the Department’s new product line where miniature trees are provided that can be placed on balconies in urban spaces.

“One of the things that we are seeking to do is ensure that despite living in increasingly urban spaces, there’s an opportunity for people to continue to have that connection to nature through plants on their balconies, and not just any plants but plants which also produce food for their consumption,” he said.

Mr. Henry, who was responding to questions from journalists during the virtual Jamaica National Biodiversity Conference media briefing on Tuesday (December 7), noted that the Department continues to produce and provide seedlings to schools and community groups who wish to plant in their areas.

This, he said, counts towards the three million trees targeted in three years under the National Tree Planting Initiative, which was launched by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, in 2019.

In addition, the Forestry Department is collaborating with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean to execute the $24 million ‘Building Climate Resilience of Urban Systems through Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EBA) in Latin America and the Caribbean’ or CityAdapt Project.

The CEO informed that through this project, the Department is providing, free of cost, fruits, ornamentals and timber trees in inner-city communities in Kingston and St. Andrew.

“This is part and parcel of improving the landscape and renewing these communities as well as providing opportunities for the provision of fruits for the consumption of the locals,” Mr. Henry said.

Jamaica is one of three countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in which the initiative is being implemented, with the others being El Salvador and Mexico.

The initiative, which is being funded through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), aims to increase the capacity of urban and peri-urban areas to adapt to the effects of climate change.

The project comprises the rehabilitation of 2.3 hectares of land in lower-income communities through the planting of 1,400 trees as well as the planting of 800 trees across communities with 400 of those trees to be planted in schools in the targeted parishes.

It will also see the planting of 3,000 drought-resilient tree species in the forest reserves of the Hope River Watershed Management Unit and involve a partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI) to rehabilitate two hectares of wetlands in the Palisadoes Port Royal Protected Area.

Implementation of the project is scheduled to end in 2022.

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