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Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, emphasized today (September 19), that the Government was committed to the preservation of the country’s forest cover, and outlined several strategies in train to protect the island’s natural vegetation.
“We are doing all in our power to ensure compliance with policies designed to protect our forests. In this regard, the government is taking steps to strengthen and broaden legislation dealing with forest protection and conservation, including amendment of the Forest Act [of] 1996,” he pointed out.
Mr. Clarke was speaking at a function to launch a $US16.5 million Forest Conservation Fund, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.
Also in train, the Minister noted, “is the drafting for a new National Forest Management and Conservation Plan”, which he said, “is the blueprint for the successful management of the forestry sector over the next 10 years”.
In addition, Mr. Clarke informed that the Forestry Department would be increasing replanting activities in critically degraded watershed areas, and that plans were well underway for the implementation of a five-year reforestation project, in partnership with the National Water Commission (NWC), at a cost of some $18 million.
“This.will see some 120 hectares of forest replanted in areas, such as Maryland, Dublin Castle, Petersfield and Newton,” he said.
The Minister stressed that Jamaicans must come together in bringing back prestige to the fact that Jamaica is hailed as ‘the land of wood and water’.
In the meantime, Mr. Clarke called for support for the Nature Conservancy, a non-government entity operating in Jamaica, in its bid to plant some one million trees over the next five years.