KIGNSTON – Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte, says there is urgent need for more attention to be paid to forest protection and management.
“There is an urgent need for conservation, and there is urgent need for us to find the right balance and perspective in sustainably using this resource as a tool for development,” Senator Malahoo Forte said.
Speaking at the official launch of the International Year of the Forests 2011, on Monday March 21 at the Forestry Department, Senator Malahoo-Forte noted that the need for action was more urgent for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), where there is greater dependence on forests resources.
“SIDS are filled with tropical rain forests, mangroves and coastal lagoons. Each of these eco systems is a storehouse of bio diversity and significantly aid in water purification processes. Mangroves, in particular, play an important role, as they act as nurseries for young fish and provide for protection against coastal erosion, including flooding and tidal waves,” Senator Malahoo- Forte said.
She also encouraged the tourism industry to partner with the Forestry Department to keep the tourism product attractive and competitive. The State Minister noted that ecotourism can offer a viable alternative income stream to local communities, previously dependent on income from unsustainable logging.
The United Nation declared 2011 the International Year of the Forests, for greater focus, increased awareness and to promote sustainable practices within the world’s forests.
It is estimated that some 1.6 billion persons worldwide depend on forests for their livelihood. In addition, forests provide services that are essential for the preservation of life on earth.
Deputy Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Akiko Fujii, noted that the International Year of Forests provided a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the multi functional roles of forests in meeting the needs of society.
“This year's theme, ‘Forest for People’, highlights the dynamic relationship between forests and the people who depend on them. They play an important role in the achievement of the millennium development goals on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,” Miss Fujii said.
Some of the activities planned for the year include: schools’ song, poster and model competitions; hike from Redlight District to Holywell; national tree planting day; Caribbean community forestry seminar; media tour of the Gourie; other recreational activities and an island-wide series of consultations.
The Forestry Department will be spearheading the local activities in observance of the International Year of the Forests.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter