Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal and Climate Change, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. says the Government is focused on legislation and policies that will create an enabling framework to advance the country’s environmental agenda.
He said that the objective is to address, among other things, the negative impact of human activity on the environment.
“We are looking at a number of issues (including) landslides that we have over time observed that are due to deforestation and also due to inappropriate agriculture practices, as well as high rainfall intensity,” he noted.
“We are looking at issues relating to severe soil degradation due to fires, over use of agrochemicals, which pollute our ground water and adversely affect downstream users and our marine users…we examine these issues to make sure that the legislation, policies regulations and operations provide that framework for us to protect our environment,” he added.
He was addressing a webinar hosted by the Ministry on Friday (June 4) in observance of National Environmental Awareness Week from June 1 to 8 and to mark World Environment Day on June 5 under the theme: ‘Ecosystems Restoration’.
The webinar aimed to highlight work being done to restore, replenish and renew the island’s ecosystems.
Minister Charles said that the Government is committed to putting the necessary safeguards in place to protect Jamaica’s natural environment, which is characterised by a diverse range of ecosystems including wetlands, mangrove forests and inland forests, coral reefs, seagrass beds, ponds and rivers.
“Our biodiversity is rich and the island is ranked fifth among the islands of the world for endemic plants and several animal species including amphibians, reptiles and land birds. Biodiversity plays an important role in our social and economic development and it is also intrinsic to our cultural identity and heritage as a people,” he noted.
The webinar featured presentations from experts in the field, who outlined the work being done to rehabilitate the island’s critical ecosystems specifically, restoration of the mangroves, the Negril Great Morass, coral reefs and the sea turtle population in the East Portland fish sanctuary.