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  • Both watersheds provide 40 percent of the water in Kingston and St. Andrew, but the volume of water is oftentimes affected by sedimentation caused by the removal of forest cover in the areas, for activities like farming.
  • “The Green River Sub Basin generates 9,000 metric tonnes of sediment per year. We have all heard about [water] lock-offs because of high sediment load and turbidity. If you were to intervene as a Watershed Manager in that area, how would you intervene? It’s all well and good to say well farmers you need to conserve,” Interim Project Manager for the Integrated Management of the Yallahs and Hope River Watershed Management Areas (Yallahs-Hope) Project, Andre Reid said at a JIS Think Tank held recently.

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) says the implementation of a Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) scheme, could bode well for the prolonged management of the Hope and Yallahs Watersheds.

Both watersheds provide 40 percent of the water in Kingston and St. Andrew, but the volume of water is oftentimes affected by sedimentation caused by the removal of forest cover in the areas, for activities like farming.

One stand-out area is the Green River Sub Basin just above the Ramble intake from the Yallahs River.

“The Green River Sub Basin generates 9,000 metric tonnes of sediment per year. We have all heard about [water] lock-offs because of high sediment load and turbidity. If you were to intervene as a Watershed Manager in that area, how would you intervene? It’s all well and good to say well farmers you need to conserve,” Interim Project Manager for the Integrated Management of the Yallahs and Hope River Watershed Management Areas (Yallahs-Hope) Project, Andre Reid said at a JIS Think Tank held recently.

“But the farmers are trying to get by with $20,000 per month and they have shown a high dependency on this environment. So, under our project, one of the solutions that we sought to explore is ….the design of a Payment for Ecosystem [Services] scheme,” he added

The PES scheme is a strategy developed to incentivize farmers or landowners to conserve their use of environmental resources, to aid the preservation of the environment. PES has been previously used in New York and Costa Rica to provide clean water and restore forest cover, respectively.

“It is an excellent programme because it recognizes the farmers need to earn and provides them with an incentive to rely less on their watershed. Through this compensation, the farmers will be able to rely less on their environment, and in so doing, you would increase the flow of water coming into Kingston and St. Andrew. Under our project, over the five years of action, we were able to reduce sedimentation by eight percent – that is what the model is showing us,” Mr. Reid explained.

NEPA recently announced the completion of a socio-economic study of the Yallahs and Hope watershed areas. This is one of the components of the soon-to-be-concluded Yallahs-Hope Project.

Under the five-year Yallahs-Hope Project, NEPA and two of its partner agencies, the Forestry Department and the Rural Agricultural Development Agency, have reforested over 500 hectares of land and engaged over 5,000 farmers, teaching them sustainable farming practices.

As the Yallahs-Hope Project comes to an end and the proposed PES scheme is being reviewed for approval, NEPA aims to maintain the gains made under the project.

“We found that majority of the farmers are saying that they are using less fertilizer and fewer pesticides in their operation, which bodes well on water quality because we have less of those contaminants coming into the system. Our project touched on how do you balance the need to earn and the need to conserve? That is what we, as NEPA, intend to do moving forward,” Mr. Reid said.

The Integrated Management of the Yallahs and Hope River Watershed Management Areas (Yallahs-Hope) Project was funded by the Global Environmental Facility through the Inter-American Development Bank, with co-financing from the Government of Jamaica.

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