- The move is to regulate the lumber and furniture industries, to prevent willy-nilly cutting down of trees.
- The new forestry policy will be submitted to Cabinet soon.
The Government, in a move to provide greater protection for the country’s forests, will be licensing sawmills and operators of power saws.
Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, made the announcement on Friday (Feb. 21), as he addressed the launch of the Spring Dunrobin and Hillside Local Forest Management Committees, at the White Hall Baptist Church in St. Thomas.
“The Forestry Department… will be starting the licensing and registration of sawmills, and persons who operate power saws, in a bid to regulate the lumber and furniture industries. We cannot have persons cutting down trees willy-nilly,” he stated.
“We have to ensure that our trees are not cut down and utilised in an unsustainable, haphazard manner, just so someone can line his pocket. This initiative, it is believed, will ultimately result in the better conservation and preservation of our forested areas. In the end, how we manage our forest reserves could affect the quality of life for all our citizens now, and in the future,” the Minister stated.
He told the gathering that a new forestry policy will be submitted to Cabinet soon, followed by a series of public consultations across the island. The new policy looks at the national priorities for forests, including efforts at conservation, protection and reforestation. It also addresses support for rural livelihoods, as well as climate change mitigation.
Minister Pickersgill also informed that the Forestry Department is moving to have close to 3, 700 hectares of crown land declared as forest reserves and forest management areas, with at least two of the areas to be declared in St. Thomas.
Minister Pickersgill is urging greater vigilance by Government entities, as well as citizens in protecting the forests.
“Each and every one of us has an obligation to ensure the sustainability of our natural resources, including our forest cover, for the benefit of present and future generations,” he stated.