The Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change is to spend $8 million towards sustainable land management and water security within the Yallahs River and Hope River Watershed Management Units, among other things, this year.
Making the disclosure in his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, June 26, portfolio Minister, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, informed that the money will also go towards activities to encourage proper farming practices, and reforestation of 400 hectares of degraded land.
“These watershed management units provide potable water to approximately one million citizens in Kingston and St. Andrew and have been seriously degraded overtime,” he said.
He informed that the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) will continue the implementation of the Watershed Area Management Model in five additional management units this financial year.
“This is a continuation of activities pursued in the last financial year, wherein a Watershed Area Management Mechanism was implemented as part of the Global Environment Facility Integrated Watershed and Coastal Area Management Project, in nine of the 26 watershed management units,” the Minister said.
He noted that during the year, the Ministry will also be working towards the finalisation of the Watersheds Policy of Jamaica.
Turning to the issue of forests, the Minister revealed that he recently signed off on the Draft Forest Policy for Jamaica, which has been considered by Cabinet, and referred to its Economic and Infrastructure Development Committee.
“This policy will have far reaching implications for forest management locally,” he said.
The Minister further informed that the Forestry Department has completed the Forest Management Plan for the Cockpit Country Forest Reserve.
“The plan outlines how the Forestry Department will work with all the various stakeholders within the boundaries of the Cockpit Country Forest Reserve, to preserve one of Jamaica’s largest remaining closed broadleaf forests,” he said.
Further stressing the importance of reforestation, Mr. Pickersgill informed that 75,000 seedlings have been earmarked for distribution in keeping with the Forestry Department’s 75th anniversary celebrations.
The Minister also reiterated his call for Jamaicans “to desist from the destructive practice of cutting down trees near riverbanks and the wanton clearing of land for agricultural and other purposes”.
Contact: Alecia Smith-Edwards