Sat | Sep 23, 2017

From the ET Calendar | International Day of Forests – March 21

Published:Thursday | March 16, 2017 | 3:00 AM
Mangrove roots and fish at Union Island, St Vincent and the Grenadines. Coastal mangrove forests serve as a breeding gound for sea life and a natural barrier against storms and coastal erosion.

In anticipation of International Day of Forests next Tuesday, Earth Today shares with you this week some facts on Jamaican wetlands, which in Jamaica comprise mainly mangrove forests.

According to the National Forest management and Conservation Plan on which there is currently ongoing consultations, mangrove forests provide several economic benefits to communities, "which in many cases are extracted at unsustainable rates."

These include timber for construction, yam sticks, artisanal fish pots, small-scale farming, charcoal production and use as firewood.

"As a result, mangroves are threatened by over exploitation of their resources, permitted coastal development projects, housing solutions, and hotels and tourist attractions," the plan says.

 

RAMSAR SITES

 

"The National Environment and Planning Authority (NEPA), in an effort to protect the country's wetlands, has declared four Ramsar sites. These are the Black River Lower Morass in 1997, Palisadoes-Port Royal Protected Area 2005, the Portland Bight Wetlands and Cays, 2006 and Mason River Protected Area, 2011," it notes.

The Forestry Department is now looking to scale up that protection, by taking mangrove forests under their authority. Meanwhile:

- Wetlands account for only around 2% of total land cover on the island.

- They support high amounts of terrestrial and coastal marine biodiversity.

- The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

The Convention defines wetlands to include all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.