Agriculture Minister, Roger Clarke has called for stronger participation and support on the part of local stakeholders to help with the successful management and monitoring of the island’s forests.
The Minister, who was delivering the keynote address today at the launch of the Manual of Dendrology by the Forestry Department of the Agriculture Ministry at the Hilton Hotel in Kingston, said such participation in “protection and conservation initiatives” was necessary to prevent deforestation.
Minister Clarke said failing this, “deforestation, erosion, and water pollution (would) continue to increase” resulting in “irreparable damage to (the) eco system in coming years.”
He pointed out that the favourable alternative would be a “Jamaica in which wood (would) no longer be used as a major source of fuel, the decline of illegal extraction of timber from forests” and reforestation of areas “formerly ravaged by fires, logging or negative agricultural practices.”
The Agriculture Minister said that if Jamaica achieved these goals, the country could once again become the land of wood and water with “fewer landslides, reduced erosion and sedimentation and improved water quality.”
He commended the publication of the manual noting that it came at an opportune time and was a “seminal contribution to not only the work of foresters but to the preservation and protection of the Jamaican environment in general,” as widespread exploitation of such resources was common in the region and had taken its toll.
The “Manual of Dendrology-Jamaica” which is the culmination of two years of research and fieldwork and the first of its kind to be published in Jamaica and the wider English-speaking Caribbean, is intended to assist inventories and fieldwork, plant life and habitat studies and general appreciation of 150 species of trees, most of which are indigenous. Several non-native trees, which are widespread and naturalized such as: hog plum, common bamboo, logwood and guango can also be found in the manual.
It also contains vivid photographs coupled with the botanical and common names, sizes and forms of trees, leaves and flowers and parishes in which they are known to exist.
The manual is an ideal guide for foresters, ecologists, naturalists and tree lovers and was prepared by noted dendrologist, Tracey Parker and funded by the Canadian International Development Agency’s “Trees for Tomorrow” project at a cost of approximately US$80,000. The Trees for Tomorrow project has been facilitating a range of projects undertaken by the Forestry Department over the past six years and is to be extended by a further 18 months come Wednesday, February 18.
Conservator of Forests, Marilyn Headley, in introducing the manual, said it was the result of collaboration between several institutions as well as individuals in communities that the information found in the manual was compiled. She said the manual would be a source of technical information and knowledge to Jamaicans at large.
Canadian High Commissioner, His Excellency Claudio Valle, in his remarks, said the initiative was an important one and one of the varied successful collaborations between the Canadian government and the Forestry Department. He lauded the quality of the manual, noting that its worth was increased as it appealed to both the amateur and professional forester and was a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge, which existed.
The manual, which has achieved much acclaim nationally, regionally and internationally, will be distributed to tertiary institutions, and libraries island wide and will be available for purchase for $1,800 with a 10 per cent discount for students with valid identification cards.
Copies of the manual can also be obtained from Senior Advisor in the Forestry Department, John Latham at the Forestry Department, at 178 Constant Spring Road in Kingston.