Jamaica’s mangroves being strengthened under four-year project

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

Jamaica’s mangrove ecosystem is being strengthened under a project being implemented by the Forestry Department over a four-year period.

The Jamaica Mangroves Plus Project, which began in late 2023 and will run until 2027, is funded by a grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Department and Conservator of Forests, Ainsley Henry, said the initiative is a “groundbreaking activity,” that is aimed at promoting biodiversity and positive approaches to the sustainable management of Jamaica’s wetland forest habitats.

“Today, for the first time in the history of our country, we have taken deliberate and concrete steps to codify strategies and actions geared at guiding our efforts to sustainably manage and protect the wetland forests,” he noted.

Henry, who was addressing last Friday’s official launch of the project at the AC Hotel Kingston, pointed out that mangroves play a pivotal role in preserving the health of the island’s coastlines.

The CEO informed that the project is dedicated to restoring, rehabilitating, protecting and conserving the wetland forests as much as possible.

This will be achieved by making the necessary changes to policies; creating a more conducive environment for mangrove sustainability; raising awareness among relevant stakeholders about the significance of mangroves; creating and popularising maps to illustrate wetland forests; proposing zones and areas under consideration for preservation and restoration; developing a dedicated website to provide real time updates on the status and management of wetland forests; designating areas for protection; and rehabilitating and restoring degraded areas.

Henry said the project, which was developed through a collaborative process with all wetland forests stakeholders, is strategically aligned with the National Mangrove and Swamp Management Plan (NMSMP), which also began in 2023.

For her part, Project Manager, Nicolene Whitely, pointed to the necessity and urgency of the project.

Citing a net loss of 16.9 hectares of mangroves between 2017 and 2021, Whitely said, “imagine if we continue on this destructive path for the next 10 or 15 years. You can understand what’s going to happen to our society and our coastlines.”

She emphasised the project’s objective of contributing to the NMSMP, which aims to conserve a minimum of 60 per cent or 7,600 hectares of Jamaica’s government-owned forested wetlands and 20 per cent of privately-owned forested wetlands by 2062.

The Jamaica Mangroves Plus project is seeking to impact 400 direct beneficiaries and 18,194 indirect beneficiaries.

The project has three components – national mangrove policy strengthening; mangrove ecosystem restoration; knowledge management; and project monitoring and evaluation.

Co-financiers of the project include Caribbean Coastal Area Management (C-CAM) Foundation, National Fisheries Authority, and The Nature Conservancy.

-JIS

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