Gov’t Committed to Preserving the Environment – Pickersgill

first_imgGov’t Committed to Preserving the Environment – Pickersgill EnvironmentJanuary 27, 2012 FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, says the government is fully committed to the preservation of the country’s natural environment to improve the standard of living and the quality of life for all Jamaicans. He stated that the administration has adopted an approach which is based on five key elements: reduce, replenish, recovery, recycle and re-use and “we will be vigorously pursuing these means.”  Mr. Pickersgill was speaking at the official launch of Local Forest Management Committees (LFMC) in the rural St. Andrew communities of Dallas Castle and Constitutional Hill, on Jan. 26, at the Mount Beulah Rehoboth Apostolic Church in Lindo’s Gap. The LFMC is the institutional body created to enable the participation of communities in the co-management of forested areas, specifically those managed by the Forestry Department. The committees fall under the European Union (EU)-funded €4.13 million Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Reduction Project, which comes under the Global Climate Change Alliance in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The project is managed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), and is being implemented by the Forestry Department, National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Environmental Management Division of the Ministry, and the Meteorological Service. Minister Pickersgill said the work of the LFMCs is critical to the government’s efforts to protect and preserve the country’s forest resources against abuse, degradation and the harmful effects of climate change. He noted that such efforts will ultimately help to safeguard the environment and citizens, particularly those in vulnerable communities, against the risks often associated with natural hazards, such as hurricanes and land slippages.  Stating that deforestation has devastating long-term effects, he said that in Jamaica, the problem has resulted in accelerated soil erosion causing sedimentation, flooding and ultimately the degradation of the coral reefs and beaches that surround the island.  “The destruction of forests also threatens diversity of plant and animal life including the 21.2 per cent of mammals and reptiles endemic only to Jamaica and just over 27 per cent of plant species that are only to be found on this island,” he remarked. Programme Assistant, UNEP, Sanya Wedermier-Graham, in her remarks, said the establishment of the two new LFMCs is a significant step in the management of Jamaica’s forest resources over the long-term, while Director for Sustainable Development and Regional Planning Division, PIOJ, Claire Bernard, said she is heartened by the level of cooperation and partnership displayed by the community members under the LFMCs. She implored the communities to keep the work going “so that when we come back here in another year or so, we can demonstrate to the EU that work is really taking place and their investment is making a difference.”    The launch of the Dallas Castle and Constitution Hill LFMCs brings to 10 the number of such committees across the island. The others are in the Northern Rio Minho region in Clarendon; Pencar watershed in St. Mary; Dolphin Head in Hanover; Spring Bank in St. Thomas; Buff Bay in Portland and three in the Cockpit Country. The LFMC programme aims to increase the resilience of vulnerable areas and reduce the risks associated with natural hazards, particularly in vulnerable communities. The project also seeks to reduce downstream runoff through the rehabilitation and improved management of selected watersheds, and to enhance institutional and local level capacity for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction by increasing capabilities and raising awareness.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 31.1 per cent or about 337,000 hectares of Jamaica is forested with 26.1 per cent or 88,000 hectares classified as primary forest, while the island has about 7,000 hectares of planted forest. The FAO, in its Global Forest Resource Assessment 2010 country report for Jamaica, said the island loses an average of 400 hectares or 0.12 per cent of forest cover per year. Meanwhile, EU Representative, Pierre-Luc Vanhaeverbeke, informed that the EU has been working with UNEP and the government to carefully develop an effective strategy to curtail the effects of climate change on the local environment. He noted that the approach covers three main areas of activity – watershed management, forest resource management and coastal and marine resource preservation. “We also try to look at awareness building and information collection. We try to understand what is happening, measure it, inform the communities, and try to put systems in place to reduce the effects of climate change,” he remarked. Mr. Vanhaeverbeke said that the project is slated take place over a 30-month period and costs more than $400 million. “Of course we don’t expect that this project alone will stop climate change in Jamaica. But we can work in a certain number of fields to prepare citizens and try to decrease the effects,” he said. By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter RelatedGov’t Committed to Preserving the Environment – Pickersgill Advertisements RelatedGov’t Committed to Preserving the Environment – Pickersgill RelatedGov’t Committed to Preserving the Environment – Pickersgilllast_img read more