Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Queen's Commonwealth Canopy: A shot in the arm for Jamaica’s forests

Published:Thursday | December 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM
A section of the Dolphin Head forest in Hanover.

One of Jamaica's forests - Dolphin Head in Hanover - was recently on international show, thanks to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy (QCC).

Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace to acknowledge the dedications from 20 countries - Jamaica included - across the Commonwealth to the QCC on November 15.

"Earlier this year, we got an invitation [to submit an application] and I told our staff, 'let us just do it'. We identified Dolphin Head, where we have a local forest management group and it is preserved," revealed Marilyn Headley, chief executive officer for the Forestry Department.

"It is one of those areas that have a lot of endemic species and it is part of our last piece of closed broad leaf forest. So we sent in the application and they accepted ..., then we got this email that said the Queen is having a reception for all the countries that have nominations," she added, clearly happy with the opportunity.

A subsequent request came in for Jamaica to send material for the creation of a display board.

"We did the pictures and the High Commission in London pulled together some stuff so they got some Jamaican dollies, some Blue Mountain coffee and a mango. And the Kew Gardens - the Tropical Gardens in Kew - had some of the old-time forest species and some products like Sarsaparilla, the lace-bark and some other ones," Headley noted.

At the reception, Jamaica was among only three countries "to explain to the Queen about the project".

"Myself and Deputy High Commissioner Angella Rose-Howell explained to the Queen and the Duke about the project and the things we had there that is being filmed into a documentary by Sir David Attenborough," said the Forestry Department boss.




"It was really, really interesting. A lot of forestry persons were there. They talked to us about things going on in forestry. We talked to them about our REDD+ initiatives [and] our local forestry management community groups. It was really a wonderful night," she reflected.

Headley, also the conservator of forests, said there is no question of the exposure value for Jamaica.

"The exposure because the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) that is doing it, along with the Commonwealth Forestry Association and we Jamaica as one of the 20 countries and then Jamaica as one of the three selected to get highlighted," she explained.

"It is important when you get these extra jolts of information coming into the public," she added.

The QCC was launched at last year's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta. According to the RCS website, it was designed to create a network of forest conservation initiatives throughout the 52 nations of the Commonwealth "to mark Her Majesty The Queen's service and dedication as Head of the Commonwealth".

Its objectives include:

- Awareness-raising within the Commonwealth of the value of indigenous forests and to saving them for future generations.

- Creation of a unique network of forest conservation projects that bring collective credibility and in the integrity to individual Commonwealth initiatives; and

- Raising the profile of the Commonwealth, demonstrating the capacity of its 52 member countries to act together as one to ensure forest conservation.

"It will use the Commonwealth network to facilitate a programme of knowledge exchange activities, to share best practice and to create new, collaborative initiatives that contribute to forest conservation across the globe," said the RCS.