Jamaica’s much anticipated Protected Areas System Master Plan (PASMP) is expected to be completed and presented to Cabinet within the next few months.
Consultant in the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Leonie Barnaby, made the pronouncement as she addressed regional representatives at the opening of the mid-term evaluation workshop on the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’s (CEPF) Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot project on Wednesday, July 10, at the Hotel Four Seasons in Kingston.
The PASMP is the primary national policy document for strengthening the management and protection of the country’s natural and cultural heritage. It sets out guidelines for establishing and managing a comprehensive network of protected areas that supports national development by contributing to long-term ecological viability and maintaining ecological processes and systems.
It also sets out the strategies and activities that will lead to the establishment of a network of protected areas that is representative, effectively managed, and sustainably financed. It covers the five-year period 2013 to 2017.
Ms. Barnaby informed that the Master Plan has been worked on by a dedicated core of persons and was widely consulted on with members of civil society.
She also pointed out that the CEPF features in the master plan. The five-year Caribbean programme, which started in 2010, provides grants to civil organisations to help protect the Caribbean biodiversity hotspot. A fundamental goal is to ensure that civil society plays a critical role in achieving biodiversity conservation.
Noting that advocacy is a critical part of the work of CEPF, Ms. Barnaby said that the Government welcomes collaboration with civil society in protecting the environment.
“I think it is true to say that today, collaboration is a given for dealing with protected areas management. We will not be able to sit in our offices in the capital of the island and deal with these issues in a practical way. So we really are looking forward to, not adversarial contact, but a true understanding from all sides, of how we can all work together for the one goal of protecting our environment,” she stated.
Ms. Barnaby stated that the Government is fully behind the CEPF and will do all that it can to support the projects.
Jamaica is one of 11 countries in the Caribbean that is eligible for CEPF support. The others are Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Bahamas; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Haiti; St. Lucia; St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Currently Haiti (30 per cent), the Dominican Republic (23 per cent) and Jamaica (14 per cent), receive the greater share of the grant funding from CEPF.
The funding for Jamaica goes to projects in the highest priority biodiversity hotspots such as Catadupa, Cockpit Country, Dolphin Head, Hellshire Hills and Portland Ridge and Portland Bight areas.
Regional Implementation Team Country Coordinator for Jamaica, Nicole Brown, explained that to date, the CEPF Caribbean programme has supported 55 projects throughout the region, committing over US$5 million.
She informed that the mid-term evaluation workshop, which concludes on July 12, is bringing together stakeholders from across the Caribbean region, who are focusing on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, to assess where the countries are in meeting the objectives under the programme at the half-way mark, and to map out the strategies for the remaining 2 1/2 years.
Contact: Andrea Braham