Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Earth Today | More commendations for UWI principal's 'green' gains

Published:Thursday | October 4, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Professor Dale Webber
Professor Michael Taylor *** Local Caption *** Contributed Photo Prof Michael Taylor
A section of the Cockpit Country Reserve in Trelawny.
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COMMENDATIONS HAVE continued to come in for respected marine scientist, administrator and educator, Professor Dale Webber, ahead of his official receipt of national honours for his contributions to conservation in Jamaica later this month.

Webber, principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, will receive the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander for outstanding contribution to environmental conservation.

"I am delighted that Professor Webber has been recognised with this national honour," said Barrington Lewis, chief executive officer of the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, where Webber chairs the board.

"He has served the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, the UWI and all the other entities he has worked with, with distinction, and is truly deserving," he added.

Lewis' sentiments were echoed by those of Professor Michael Taylor, dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, a physicist and himself a celebrated scientist.

"Professor Webber is a stalwart in the environment field and has been leading the charge for many years. It is well deserved," he noted.

"His work on the coastal ecology on the polluted Kingston Harbour, for example, was groundbreaking ... His work, which dealt with the water quality, really set the stage for how we should treat this natural resource and what needs to be done for its preservation," Taylor added.

 

Webber keen on research for the public good

 

This has been Webber's modus operandi in his approach to research - research that is useful and for the public good.

As the GraceKennedy's James Moss-Solomon Sr chair in environmental management from 2010 to 2015, for example, he marshalled a project to initiate, manage and facilitate a public consultation process on defining a boundary for the biodiversity-rich and ecologically sensitive Cockpit Country.

A boundary was subsequently declared for the Cockpit Country, informed, at least in part, by the 2013 technical report, co-authored by himself and Dr Claudel Noel, on the outcomes of that effort.

Their report noted, among other things, "an urgent need to develop a long vision for the Cockpit Country and evaluate the true cost of ecosystem services provided by the Cockpit Country for Jamaica and the World vis-·-vis the permanent removal of mineral resources under current technological conditions".

It further recommended that: The Government of Jamaica "not authorise any form of mining and quarrying activity within the Cockpit Country as the level of emotion is too high and the level of opposition and resistance by community members and leaders, community-based organisations, non-govern-mental and civil society organisations, some govern-mental agencies and members of the academic community may not provide enough guarantee and confidence for potential investors".

Meanwhile, Webber, while admitting he never expected to be so honoured, is well pleased.

"You never set out to get the award, but when you look back, you feel good," said the man who has, in addition to his voluntary work, research ventures and teaching prowess, produced five book chapters and 35 publications in peer-reviewed journals, in addition to having supervised the graduate work of some 62 students.

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