The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is focused on the preservation of critical watersheds under the Jamaican Path from Hills to Ocean (H2O) Project.
Among these are the Mason River Protected Area in Clarendon and Castleton Gardens in St. Mary, which falls within the Wag Water Watershed Management Unit.
“We are also looking at Winns Morass in Trelawny, which is another of our unique wetlands, which the agency has been working to ensure that it is brought back to a healthy state,” NEPA’s Senior Public Education and Community Outreach Officer, Ava Tomlinson, told JIS News.
Other targeted areas are Half Moon Bay in the Portland Bight Protected Area, the Ocho Rios Marine Park, and the seagrass beds in Hellshire Bay, St. Catherine.
Ms. Tomlinson said that rapid ecological assessments will be done over time in specific watershed areas, such as Wag Water, Rio Nuevo and the Rio Bueno/White River Watershed Management Units.
She said that climate change adaptation interventions will also be undertaken.
The H2O project, which began in April 2021 is being implemented over five years.
Funded through a grant from the European Union (EU) Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+), as well as the Government of Jamaica, the initiative aims to build resilience of communities within the project areas and reduce poverty through the implementation of integrated and sustainable land-management methodology.
It is being executed through the collaborative efforts of the Planning Institute of Jamaica, NEPA and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
“This project is focused on areas related to agriculture and tourism and we are working specifically in our watersheds,” Ms. Tomlinson said.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (Public Gardens Division) is also being targeted in meeting the project objectives.
At the end of the undertaking, there should be increased food security and sustainable livelihood, improved watershed management and wetland restoration.