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Work advanced to have Conservation Trust Fund up and running

Published:Wednesday | July 6, 2016 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor

EFFORTS to ready the National Conservation Trust Fund are progressing, though the authorities remain tight-lipped on when beneficiaries may be able to access it.

"Where we are at now, the trust fund is registered under the Companies Office of Jamaica and we are in the process of applying for charity status under the Charities Act," revealed Gillian Guthrie, senior director of the Environment and Risk Management Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

"We have one staff member of the trust fund - an administrator - who is helping us with the paperwork to establish the fund. In the future, we will have an executive director of the fund, who will do the day-to-day management. So we are not at the stage yet of grant making," she added.

Guthrie would not give a date for grant making, noting that there are still some things to be done that could affect the date they have in mind.

In his June 28 sectoral presentation, Minister without Portfolio Daryl Vaz did not himself provide any timelines.

"This trust fund will provide grants to public-sector agencies, NGOs and CBOs involved in the management of protected areas in the country. The provision of financing through the trust fund will further build the capacity of key stakeholders in the management of the island's system of protected areas," Vaz, who has responsibility for land, environment and climate change, told Parliament.

"The operationalisation of the trust fund will complement the work currently being completed on the update of the National Protected Areas Policy and the preparation of drafting instructions for protected area legislation to govern the system of protected areas in the island," he added.

The fund is supported from the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF), which is comprised of contributions from three key donors for Jamaica - The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and KfW, the German development bank.

"Some of the monies are already invested. They were put in at different times. The German bank has invested a portion - 50 per cent of what they plan to invest for Jamaica - and all the monies of the GEF are already invested," Guthrie said.

"The TNC has not been invested yet. Jamaica has to sign a vertical agreement between the trust fund and the CBF and once that agreement is in place, that will trigger the TNC putting in their portion," she added.

The agreement between the trust fund and the CBF is to dictate how the money is accessed and some of the eligibility criteria.

Meanwhile, Guthrie explained how the CBF is to work.

"A portion of what is invested for Jamaica will come to our trust fund without co-financing, so we don't have to fund any monies. They will send us a portion of what is invested in the first two years," she said.

"However, in the third year, we have to find matching funds, so whatever we can match is what we can get from the CBF. So while we are trying to fully establish and operationalise the fund, we are also trying to identify additional sources of funding so that when we reach the third year, we can identify those matching funds that will allow us to leverage funds from the CBF," Guthrie added.

Jamaica and seven others are beneficiaries of the CBF, in line with the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI).

The CCI sees them aiming to conserve and manage at least 20 per cent of their marine and coastal environment by 2020.

The other islands are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.