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Non-profits to help breathe new life into forests

Published:Wednesday | July 5, 2017 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor
An expansive view of Jamaica's biodiversity-rich Cockpit Country, which the area's local forest-management committee will now work to preserve, courtesy of funding from the EFJ.
EFJ grantees, joined by board chairman Professor Dale Webber (right), show off the $86-million cheque in which they all share. The occasion was the official signing ceremony held in Kingston on Monday.

LOCAL NON-PROFITS are doing their bit to preserve and increase Jamaica's forest cover while providing a shot in the arm for honeybees over which there was some concern in recent years.

Thirteen of their number are able to do this, thanks to funding provided through the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica and made official on Monday, when they gathered in Kingston from across the island to sign their grant agreements.

The Cockpit Country Forest Management Committee is among the beneficiaries. They have been awarded just over $8 million for a project dubbed 'Ensuring Rehabilitation and Sustainability in Cockpit Country, Trelawny'.

The intent is to realise their rehabilitation and sustainability goals through "sensitising locals and visitors to the area and promoting alternative livelihood among members and local communities".

To that end, their project is to:

- implement solar energy to provide alternative energy solutions for their office and production facility in Duanvale;

- replant with native and endemic species 10 hectares of exposed crown cover to restore denuded forest cover;

- facilitate eight forest awareness sessions in at least 12 schools within the Cockpit Country while expanding navel string project engaging at least 450 students, by supporting each student with two plants each, a fruit tree and a lumber plant; and

- establish at least 50 hive boxes/colonies of bees for honey production as an alternative livelihood, generating activity.

The Hanover Bee Farmers' Co-operative Limited with their $7,137,300 project, dubbed 'Building Climate Resilience of Forest Reserve through Beekeeping in Hanover, is also among the beneficiaries.

The objectives of their project is to increase the co-operative's production capacity from 500 to 750 gallons within 12 months; help establish and maintain apriculture projects in six high schools in Hanover up to 2018; and have their members plant 1,500 flowering plants along fences in the vicinity of their apiaries by April 2018.

The other groups include:

- the Alligator Head Foundation, who are addressing disaster management through mangrove rehabilitation ($5,274,800);

- the Clarendon Parish Development Committee and their turmeric-processing enterprise ($10,681,870);

- the Dolphin Head Local Forest Management Committee in Hanover and their Co-operative Agro-forestry, Apriculture, Eco-tourism, and Alternate Livelihoods Initiative ($4,350,00);

- the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement with their 'Sustainable Agro-forestry Systems and Supporting organic Beekeeping and Alternative Livelihoods project ($7,576,000);

- the Lionel Town Development Area Committee with their $1,000,000 project to improve and sustain the livelihood of 35 residents through training in honey production;

- the Lions Club Mona and their $25,333,456.78 project dubbed 'Supporting Sustainable Forest Management and Climate Change Mitigation through Reforestation and Forest Research in the Blue and John Crow Mountain Forest Reserve'; and

- the Mitchell Town Citizens' Association Benevolent Society with their Beekeeping Alternative Livelihood project ($2,047,200).

The others are the Red Lands Production and Marketing Organisation, the Sawyers Local Forest Management Committee Benevolent Society, the Smithfield Local Forest Management Committee, and the Treadlight Youth and Community Club Benevolent Society.

The projects - selected from 33 submissions from across the island - will begin implementation in the coming weeks.

The funding from the EFJ, which amounts to $86 million for the 13 projects, has been provided through the Forest Conservation Fund.