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Approximately 700 mangrove seedlings were planted along the Palisadoes Strip by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) in collaboration with the Port Royal Marine Laboratory of the University of the West Indies. The activity was the second such event done as a part of the activities for International Year of the Reef (IYOR) 2008 in which a total of 1,400 mangrove seedlings and coastal plants were planted along the Palisadoes Strip.
Mangroves are important for the protection of coral reefs, as they filter out pollutants and trap sediments from land runoffs which could kill the reef. They also act as a nursery for many of the fishes that live on the reef, and help to stabilize the shoreline, thus reducing erosion. They are also among the most productive ecosystems in the world, and absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is fueling climate change.
“The Palisadoes Strip was chosen for this activity because it had suffered major vegetation loss in recent hurricanes. It is also an area of ecological importance as it lies within the Palisadoes/Port Royal Protected Area which has been designated a Ramsar site, signifying that it is a wetland of international importance,” says Ainsley Henry, Manager of the Ecosystems Management Branch, at NEPA.
Mr. Henry further stated, “The planting of the mangroves will improve the aesthetics of the area, as well as increase its ecological value by increasing the amount of habitat available for wildlife such as fish, crabs and birds. It will also help with the stabilization of the Palisadoes Strip.” NEPA will be coordinating several activities in the Palisadoes/Port Royal Protected Area on February 2nd, World Wetlands Day, to increase public awareness about the importance of the wetlands and mangrove forests in the area which are protected under the Ramsar convention to which Jamaica is a signatory.