Tue | Nov 13, 2018

Jamaicans weigh in on new forest sector plan

Published:Thursday | March 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Tuesday’s consultation held in Montego Bay.

JAMAICANS NOW have the opportunity to weigh in on the island's new forest management and conservation plan, which, among other things, is to inform how the sector responds to the challenge of climate change.

Over the last month, the Forestry Department has hosted a series of island-wide public consultations directed at a variety of players from key sectors, including agriculture and tourism.

"We want all the players to give us their feedback. There are different actions that will be taken over the next 10 years, which involves other partners and stakeholders so we need their input before it is signed off so that when we go to action, everybody is signed off," noted Francine Black Richards, senior manager for public relations and corporate communications.




She was speaking with The Gleaner from the more recent consultation session, held in Montego Bay on Tuesday.

Work on the plan, which succeeds an earlier one done in 2001 and which expired in 2010, has been financed to the tune of US$500,000 by the Climate Economic Analysis for Development, Investment and Resilience (CEADIR) initiative of the United States Agency for International Development.

Guiding principles of he plan include:

- Enhancing partnerships and encouraging authentic dialogue and participation among all stakeholders;

- Combating climate change, "recognising the impact of climate change on forests and sustainable forest management and contributing to climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies";

- Implementing sustainable forest management, "including giving due consideration to emerging thinking on landscape restoration"; and

n Forest finance, which is about "diversifying financing mechanisms for the management and conservation of the forest sector".

Other principles include increasing public education and awareness and enhancing the decision-making capability "through investments in developing staff capability and expanding and supporting forest research".

These are in addition to:

- Ensuring the alignment to Vision 2030 Jamaica, the island's national development plan;

- Embracing relevant national plans, among them the Protected Areas System Master Plan and National Biological Diversity Strategic Action Plan; and

- Meeting international obligations and commitments, "ensuring the Forest sector supports the county's commitment to various multilateral agreements".

The consultations got underway in Mavis Bank, East Rural St Andrew on February 9, with another following in Portland, and then the western resort city. The next one will be held in Trelawny and the final one hosted in Kingston on March 21 - with comments accepted up to March 24.

Once the consultations have been concluded, Black Richards said, the comments from the public would be incorporated and the document submitted to the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, the Forestry Department's parent ministry, for approval.

"Once the minister has approved it, them we can proceed to implementation," she noted.