Jamaica still reaping benefits from Trees for Tomorrow project
Eight years after the end of its Trees for Tomorrow (TFT) project, which was part of a concerted effort to improve tree cover and protect forest areas in Jamaica, the Forestry Department is continuing to reap rewards and has continued its public education through the National Tree Planting Day.
For this year's observance of National Tree Planting Day, the Forestry Department partnered with St Andrew Technical High School, Hague Primary and Infant School in Trelawny, May Day High School in Manchester, and Annotto Bay High School in St Mary to engage in tree-planting exercises.
The TFT project, which is sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency and the Government of Jamaica, saw the Forestry Department rolling out a wide-ranging programme to deal with the problem of deforestation in Jamaica.
One of the main aims of the programme was to gather accurate and reliable data on the extent of forest cover and the exact location of forest boundaries, and how these have changed over time, in order to support national and local forestry plans. One of the project's major achievements has been the creation of a database that includes an inventory of forest lands and aerial photographs of the entire island. With this database, the Forestry Department can analyse land-use patterns and identify areas that are under serious environmental threat. These areas may then be nominated for inclusion on the list of
protected national reserves.
Data from the surveys done indicate that forest reserves account for 111,000 hectares or more than 10 per cent of the area of the island.
Susie Latham, an agriculture economist and member of the TFT project, suggested that the project would benefit Jamaica for years to come.
A land-use assessment plan report for 2013 reported that Jamaica had recorded an afforestation rate of 0.41 per cent. When a similar assessment was done in 1998, it was revealed that the country was being affected by a deforestation rate of 0.1 per cent, losing some 336 hectares of forests annually.