JIS News

A seminar highlighting the importance of wetland conservation, was held at the new Port Antonio Marina in Portland yesterday (February 2), to observe World Wetlands Day 2004.
The seminar was organized by the Ridge to Reef Watershed Project and the Coastal Water Improvement Project, in association with the Rio Grande Wetlands Management Committee, the Port Authority of Jamaica and the Portland Environment Protection Association (PEPA).
Held under the international theme for World Wetlands Day – ‘From the mountains to the sea, wetlands at work for us’ – the seminar focused on the beauty, diversity and utility of wetlands, such as controlling floods, storing and purifying fresh water, replenishing ground water supplies, stabilising the shoreline, protecting against storms, acting as nurseries for fresh water or marine fish, providing food and water and a place for recreation and education.
It also highlighted the link between upland activities with those on the coastline, the relationship between natural and constructed wetlands, and sensitised the participants about how both work for the general benefit of people.
Among those addressing the function were, Marguerite Gauron, President of PEPA; Kevin Rushing, Deputy Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Franklyn McDonald, Chief Executive Officer of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
In his address, Mr. Rushing commended the efforts being made to achieve sustainable development in Portland, and gave the assurance that USAID would continue with the comprehensive programme of environmental management that it has established in Port Antonio and other areas of Portland.
He explained that the programme included addressing conservation issues, and problems in the Rio Grande watershed, other upper watershed areas of the parish and the Annotto Bay basin.
Mr. McDonald, in his remarks, emphasised the importance of sensitising young people about the need to preserve and protect the country’s wetland areas, noting that wetlands were not only located in coastal areas, but also in interior communities.
He commended PEPA for its work in advocating the sustainable development of the parish, and the Portland Parish Development Committee for its effort in assisting to facilitate that process.
Peter Edwards of the Centre for Marine Science at the University of the West Indies (UWI), told the audience that Caribbean wetland areas were grouped in various categories, namely mangroves, estuaries, swamps, forests and salinas.
He pointed out that the beauty, diversity and utility of wetlands were such, that everything should be done to preserve and protect them. Mr. Edwards said such locations should be regarded as areas which played a vital role in human existence and not only as breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects.

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