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JIS News

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is staging a series of workshops in watershed areas in western Jamaica, which are designed to raise citizens awareness of the importance of watersheds and the need to protect them.
The first event was held yesterday (Dec. 13) at Cambridge in St. James, where the Great River Watershed is located. Great River is one of the main sources of potable water for towns and villages in western Jamaica, stretching from Montego Bay to Lucea in Hanover.
Conservation Officer with the Coastal Zone Management Branch of NEPA, Barrington Taylor, told JIS News that in addition to the workshops, several training sessions have been held with farmers in the region, with a view to educating them about proper environmental and farming practices.
The Great River workshop, he said, served to reinforce lessons from the United States Agency for International Development-sponsored Ridge to Reef Watershed project, which ended a few months ago. “Since Ridge to Reef, the people within the watershed, their knowledge on environmental protection has increased, but I see the need where we still have to keep pushing, and we have to keep trying to educate people,” he stated.
The NEPA Conservation Officer cited improper disposal of waste and chemicals used in farming, as two of the most worrying causes of pollution within the Great River watershed area and must be tackled immediately.
Meanwhile, he informed that several other organizations, which have an interest in protecting the island’s watersheds, were working in tandem with NEPA, to educate the targeted communities on the need to protect these areas.
“On this (Green Pond) workshop we have the Social Development Commission, we have the Forestry Department, we have the Montego Bay Marine Park, we have RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) and also the community organizations,” he informed.