Establishment of the gene bank for the rehabilitation of the Negril Great Morass in Westmoreland is to be completed during the upcoming financial year.
Setting up of the gene bank, which is a type of biorepository that preserves genetic material, is being carried out under the Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (IWEco) project, which is aimed at restoring the hydrological and other physical functions of the Negril Great Morass.
A sum of $70.9 million has been provided in the 2021/22 Estimates of Expenditure, now before the House of Representatives, to complete the facility as well as other activities under the project.
The Negril Great Morass is a wetland that plays a vital role in flood protection and removal of nutrients from water sources before they deposit into the seas.
For the 2021/22 period, it is also anticipated that training will commence with stakeholders on how to manage the Negril Environmental Protected Area (EPA); a seagrass assessment and reassessment of height, density and setback requirements in the Negril EPA will be conducted; and land survey and revision of the EPA Management Plan is to commence.
Additionally, hydrological assessment, wetlands assessment, and the West Indian Whistling Duck assessment are to be completed; development of a drone programme is to continue; implementation of an integrated pollution control and management programme is to commence; the impact of approved development on the environment is to be assessed; and the business, marketing and management plan for the Negril Royal Palm Reserve is to be completed.
Activities under the project up to December 2020 include commencement of the hydrological assessment, the Wetlands Assessment, the West Indian Whistling Duck Assessment; the Knowledge, Attitude, Practice and Behaviour (KAPB) assessment; and the development of a drone programme.
The IWEco project, also seeks to enhance and re-establish native vegetation to provide a sustainable habitat for wetland fauna, eliminate issues that degrade the ecosystem functions, and implement institutional arrangements to ensure the long-term sustainability of the wetland biological resources.
It is being implemented by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Government of Jamaica.
Following an extension, the project, which began in December 2016, is scheduled to end in August 2023.