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Residents of Negril and surrounding communities in Westmoreland were sensitised about ecosystems, in terms of their importance and interdependence, at a one-day workshop put on by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
The workshop, held yesterday (Jan. 13), at the Travellers Beach Resort in Negril under the theme: ‘Understanding Ecosystems Interdependence’, is the first in a series to cover the seven watershed areas in Western Jamaica.
Held in collaboration with the Negril Education Environment Trust (NEET), the event targeted students, residents, businesspersons and other stakeholders within the South Negril /Orange River watershed area, and included presentations from the Ecosystems Management Branch of NEPA, Forestry Department, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
According to Conservation Officer within the Ecosystems Management Branch of NEPA, Barrington Taylor, the series of workshops will sensitise members of the public, especially those living close to watershed areas, about the importance of protecting the watersheds and the effects of land-based sources of pollution on the marine environment. He said further that healthy ecosystems are essential to the proper maintenance of human and other life forms.
Meanwhile, Disaster Preparedness Coordinator at the Westmoreland Parish Council, Hilma Tate, highlighted the impact of disasters on the environment, while urging preparedness measures to mitigate the worst effects.
With January 11 to 17 being observed as Earthquake Awareness Week, she used the opportunity to urge teachers and students in attendance, to implement a disaster plan in their respective schools, which should be tested regularly.
Deputy Parish Manager with the Westmoreland RADA, Fitzroy Calame, in his presentation, called on farmers to adopt good agricultural practices to prevent soil erosion.
According to NEPA, Jamaica is divided into some 26 Watershed Management Units, containing approximately 100 streams and rivers.
The next ecosystems workshop will be staged in Savanna-la-mar followed by another in Montego Bay, St. James.