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Environmental NGOs failing - Pickersgill

Published:Tuesday | February 17, 2015 | 5:42 PMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Environment Minister Robert Pickersgill
NEPA CEO Peter Knight

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Robert Pickersgill, has expressed concerns about the level of attention that some environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have given to their responsibility, to assist with monitoring protected areas in the country.

"We acknowledge that there is a problem; however, some of our environmental NGOs were given the task to assist in monitoring these areas but, unfortunately, they have not been following

up in that regard," he said at a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum. "Everyone has a role to play but they were specifically tasked with that duty," Pickersgill said at the newspaper's offices in downtown Kingston.

Peter Knight, chief executive officer at the National Environ-ment and Planning Agency (NEPA), noted that while there were concerns, NEPA had been making progress with various environmental groups.

"I think from now on we have to improve our collaboration. We have had some issues but JET (Jamaica Environment Trust), for example, wrote to us indicating that they would want to monitor Palisadoes/Port Royal protected area." He said NEPA had completed its review of the JET's proposal and was to take it to the Natural Resources Conservation Authority, with a recommendation. Its decision will follow.

"Certainly, that is the sort of partnership that we would love to have. It would be a good thing if we had more NGOs or community groups join with us to manage these protected areas because, I have to admit that there is much more that can be done," Knight told The Gleaner.

He also said going forward, work is being done to improve the situation.

"There is progress but we still need to broaden the model. We are looking at working with C-Cam (Caribbean Coastal Area Manage-ment), Negril Environment Trust and the Montego Bay Marine Park, along with joining with JET, in doing tours in a bid to encourage collaboration," he said.

However, there is a another hurdle to clear in the drive to monitor the country's protected areas. "Funding is another issue that must be addressed, because even if we have these groups assisting, they need money," Knight charged.