KINGSTON — Minister of Housing, Environment, Water and Local Government, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, is urging Jamaicans to play their part in protecting the nation's forest cover.
"Look at new ideas that we can undertake for effective and proper management of our forests. It is critical to the quality of the environment, and it is critical to economic development," he stated.
The Minister was delivering the keynote address on November 22 at a seminar hosted by the Forestry Department at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
Forests, he said, have to be "seen as a natural resource that must be protected as much as we protect the air quality which we breathe, the water quality which we drink. The quality of our forestry must become an important part of our measurement of the environment. If we destroy them it is going to take a long time to mitigate the problem."
With a third of Jamaica classified as forests, and with an estimated 330 hectares of forest cover lost every year, Dr. Chang said the Ministry will be moving to develop a sustainable environmental policy “that will ensure that this country protects the environment that will ensure we protect the value of our heritage."
He urged seminar participants to do their part by coming up with “workable solutions” to the issue of deforestation.
The United Nations has declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests, to raise awareness and strengthen the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations. The World Bank estimates that more than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood, 300 million of which actually live in these areas.
By Garfield Angus, JIS Reporter