Efforts by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to strengthen the operational and financial sustainability of Jamaica’s system of protected areas, will be significantly enhanced this year.
Just over $101 million has been allocated by the government for the undertaking in the 2012/13 Estimates of Expenditure, currently before the House of Representatives.
The objectives of the project, which commenced in January 2010, are to: strengthen financial planning and revenue generation, and rationalisation and integration of the national protected area system.
For the 2012/13 period, the project will provide for the establishment of a National Protected Area Trust Fund, linked with the regional Caribbean Biodiversity Fund; and the development of a protected areas plan framework, site level management and business plan for two protected areas, and training curricula for trust fund management and access.
It is also expected to entail preparation of drafting instructions for a protected areas legislation; and designing of a protected areas awareness strategy for decision makers.
The project has, up to March 2012, seen the establishment of a project management unit, a project steering committee, which has convened five meetings thus far, and a legal and financial working group, which has held one meeting, to date. It has also yielded the engagement of a public education specialist, and recruitment of local and international legal experts, and a business specialist.
Spearheaded by the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, the project is being jointly funded by the Government of Jamaica and Global Environmental Facility (GEF).
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter