Thu | Jul 20, 2017

Government to do more to secure Jamaica's forests

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2015 | 3:26 AM
Cockpit country

Despite a study which shows growth in the country's forest cover, Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Robert Pickersgill says the government is moving to put strategies in place to secure the country’s forests.

According to a Land Use Assessment carried out by the Forestry Department, 40 per cent of the island is classified as forest and this has been increasing overall at a rate of just under half a per cent annually, mainly due to the conversion of non forested land into secondary forests.

However, the study has also indicated losses in the quality of forests.

Pickersgill says open dry forests have been converted to bare lands, particularly along the south coast.

Forests have also been replaced by cultivation, buildings and infrastructural development, with the largest losses in forest cover occurring in St Ann, Hanover and Clarendon.

The environment minister says these losses pose serious risks to the country’s tourism sector and also increase Jamaica’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.

He says the Forestry Department will be updating the National Forest Management and conservation plan to build on and outline strategies to arrest the loss of quality forests and promote the sustainable use of available resources.

The Environment minister also says measures have been adopted to regulate the sawmill industry.

Pickersgill is also appealing to residents to play their part to ensure that the nation’s forests remain intact.