JIS News

KINGSTON — As the international community prepares to mark World Wetlands Day on February 2, Jamaicans are once again being urged to protect its wetlands, which serve as a critical source of biodiversity and are of tremendous environmental value to the country.

“The wise use and conservation of wetlands, really is an important issue for Jamaica,” said Manager of Public Education and Corporate Communications at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA),Natalie Fearon.

“They are not swamp areas that you just dump up. Wetlands are an important food source and place of economic activity, the shrimp industry in Middle Quarters in

St. Elizabeth is an example…they are also a source of different medicines, resins and dyes…offer protection for our coastlines and help to purify water,” Ms. Fearon stated in an interview with JIS News.

NEPA is partnering with various groups to stage a week of activities from January 29 to February 7 to increase the awareness of citizens about the value of wetlands and what people can do to protect them.

The activities include a church service on Sunday, January 30 at the Hellshire United Church in Portmore, St. Catherine; presentations on wetlands and forests; educational displays; bird monitoring; boat tours of mangroves; a mini concert at the Monymusk Gun Club, Clarendon; and a debating competition at the William Knibb High School Auditorium in Trelawny.

A display and tree planting exercise are also scheduled for Hendricks Wharf, St. Elizabeth. For more information on the schedule of activities persons can visit NEPA’s website www.nepa.gov.jm.

Meanwhile, the Public Education Manager is encouraging Jamaicans to support organisations that are actively engaged in the protection of wetlands.

Wetlands are lands saturated with water all year round.These include swamps, marshes and bogs. Jamaicahas several wetlands, three of which have been designated Ramsar sites (Wetlands of International Importance), under the Convention on Wetlands.

World Wetlands Day is used to raise public awareness on wetlands worldwide. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971.