Forestry Department assessing mangroves, swamps islandwide
The Forestry Department is undertaking an assessment of 7,000 hectares of mangrove forests across Jamaica as the agency moves to develop a plan to manage this resource by 2021.
The assessment and plan are also deliverables of the forest sector plan called the National Forest Management and Conservation Plan.
“The goal is to assess 7,000 hectares of mangroves over the next three years. At the end of April, we’ve assessed over 2,500 hectares so we are on track to meet the target. We are finding patches of healthy mangroves that we didn’t know existed and we are seeing first-hand how our mangroves are helping to keep our beaches clean and are serving as a habitat for a number of marine life,” said Brahim Diop, Senior Research Officer and head of the Research Branch at the department.
Diop says that work began in January on the north-west section of the island which covers the parishes of Trelawny, St James and Hanover as well as the south-east section covering Clarendon, St Catherine, St Thomas, Kingston and St Andrew.
Given that most swamp forests are in close proximity to mangrove forests, the department says it will also use the opportunity to assess the remaining swamp forests.
Between 1998 and 2013, Jamaica has lost 2,123 hectares of mangrove and swamp forests, cumulatively.
Mangroves and swamp forests provide several economic benefits to communities, which in many cases are extracted at an unsustainable rate for construction, for use as yam sticks, small-scale farming, charcoal production and artisanal fish pots.
In addition, mangroves are threatened by permitted coastal development projects including housing solutions as well as hotels and tourist attractions.