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Agriculture Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton has said that the Government is committed to ensuring the sustainability of the island’s forests.
“In this regard, I have given my support and approval for the continuation of the process to transform the Forestry Department into an Executive Agency. As an Executive Agency, the Department is expected to function more effectively and be equipped with the necessary resources to carry out its functions efficiently,” Dr. Tufton said.
He was speaking at the official opening of the Cockpit Country Discovery Centre in Litchfield, Wait-A-Bit, Trelawny on Friday (May 30).
The centre, established at a cost of US$70,000, was constructed under an agreement between the Forestry Department and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a US-based non-profit organization operating in Jamaica for the past 17 years.
“The Discovery Centre is being dubbed as ‘the gateway to the Cockpit Country.’ In other countries discovery centres are strategically placed at unique sites to increase awareness and understanding about the environment; promote interest in, increase knowledge and understanding of; and encourage protection, enhancement and enjoyment of the site,” he said, noting that no less was expected of the Cockpit Country Discovery Centre.
With the Cockpit Country being heralded both locally and internationally as an outstanding centre of Jamaica’s natural and cultural heritage, Dr. Tufton highlighted that it was home to 27 of Jamaica’s 28 endemic bird species and that the area included the largest remaining block of moist to wet limestone forest in Jamaica.
“What we have here is a national and international treasure. A treasure that must be protected at all costs, from those factors which threaten its very existence,” he said, and thanked the residents for playing their role in ensuring its sustainability.