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JIS News

Agriculture and Land Minister, Roger Clarke, has called on Jamaicans to take an active role in efforts to maintain and increase the country’s forest cover.
He remarked that trees were an important part of the island’s national heritage, in addition to being “important for the natural cycles that are essential to maintaining an ecological balance for our planet and in providing a habitat for many species of birds, mammals and other wildlife.”
The Minister, who was delivering the main address at the opening of the Forestry Department’s annual exposition today (April 7) at the facility’s Constant Spring Road head offices, further pointed out that trees were absorbers of carbon dioxide and played an important part in controlling the greenhouse effect. “Trees are important,” he added, “in stabilising the soil and in watershed protection, by providing us with water of the highest quality and in good supply.”
Minister Clarke noted further, that trees helped in mitigating the effects of natural disasters. “Every year, during the hurricane season, we come to appreciate the fact that we need to reforest our hillsides,” he pointed out.
The exposition, which is being held under the theme: ‘The Forestry Department and You in Partnership for a Greener Future,’ features some 28 exhibitors. These include the National Land Agency, Rural Agricultural Development Authority, Scientific Research Council, Island Special Constabulary Force, Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, and Water Resources Authority.
Alli Morgan, Director of Technical Services at the Department, informed that one of the primary objectives of hosting the exposition was to increase public awareness of the need to improve the country’s forest cover by planting trees.
Targeted in this effort are farmers or owners of both small and large plots of lands.
Mr. Morgan told JIS News that through the Private Planting Programme, the Department would provide seedlings to interested persons and offer technical advice in the planting and tending of the trees.
Among the seedlings supplied are mahogany, spanish elm, santa maria, caribbean pine, and bitter damsel. “We determine which of the species is best suited for the location and look at factors such as soil, climatic condition and rainfall,” Mr. Morgan explained.
He revealed that since 1998, some 1,200 persons have registered in the programme and 500,000 seedlings have been distributed. To date, he added, approximately 800 hectares of timber trees have been planted.