Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about the Forestry Department

The Forestry Department was designated as an Executive Agency in May 2010. 

Forests are of inestimable importance. They produce many products that are used daily; from fruits, paper, wood as well as by-products, such like medicines, cosmetics and detergents.

Forests also provide habitats for diverse animal species, and form the source of livelihood for many communities.

They offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion, help to maintain the water cycle, and help reduce global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which is used in photosynthesis.

The Land Use Assessment of 2013, revealed that approximately 40 per cent or 439, 937.8 hectares of the island is covered by forests.

This is up from the 30 per cent, reported in 1998 Land Use Assessment.

The purpose of the National Forest Management and Conservation Plan (NFMCP) is the sector plan for the forest sector that seeks to promote the development of the sector and the conservation and sustainable use of the forest resources of the country to meet local and national needs. This is achieved through the protection, management and restoration of the forest resources for the benefit of present and future generations. This ten-year plan has been prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Forest Act of 1996. This plan was widely distributed and presented to the public in a series of well-attended meetings and workshops where feedback was sought before the plan was finalised. A draft plan was completed in March 2017 and it is now undergoing the necessary review and approval processes. 

A Local Forest Management Committee (LFMC) is the institutional body created in watersheds management units to enable the participation of the communities in the co-management of forested areas (specifically those managed by the Forestry Department. The formation of Local Forest Management Committees (LFMCs) is provided for by the Forest Act, 1996 and is an integral component of the “Community Participation” strategy of the Agency.

There are 18 Local Forest Management Committees established across the island. 

National Tree Planting Day is observed on the first Friday in October...

The observance of National Tree Planting Day started in October 2003 as part of activities to mark the 65th anniversary of the Forestry Department.

The Agency specializes in timber and ornamental or shade seedlings

The Agency provides a selection of seedlings free of cost on the lead up to National Tree Planting Day and also for annual Labour Day projects. Most of the timber and ornamental seedlings provided around the time of National Tree Planting Day and Labour Day are free.

However, outside of those two times of the year, seedlings are available for purchase starting at prices as low as twenty dollars ($20).

Fruit tree seedlings also attract a cost of two hundred and fifty dollars ($250) each.

Seedlings are available at all the Agency’s nurseries:

Head Office- 173 Constant Spring Road, Kingston 8

Williamsfield, Manchester

Moneague (adjacent to the JDF training Camp), St Ann

Mount Airy, St. Andrew

How much of Jamaica's forest cover in privately owned?

Majority of Jamaica's forests are privately owned with 73.5 percent of the 40 percent of Jamaica classifed as forests, owned by private individuals. 

How much of Jamaica's forests does the Forestry Department manage?

The Forestry Department manages 116,862 hectares or 26.5 percent of the 439,937.8 hectares or 40 percent of Jamaica classified as forests.

What is Jamaica's deforestation rate?

The Land-use assessment survey conducted by the Forestry Department in 2013 found that Jamaica had seen an increase in its forest cover. Therefore Jamaica has an afforestation rate of 0.41 percent. 

What are the forest types and sizes found in Jamaica?

The types of forests are:

Closed Broadleaf - This is described as closed primary forest with broadleaf trees at least 5 metres tall and crowns interlocking, with minimal human disturbance. There are 84,636.6 hectares of Closed Broadleaf forests in Jamaica. 

Disturbed Broadleaf - this is described as forest with broadleaf trees at least 5 metres tall and species-indicators of disturbance. There is 175,590.6 hectares of disturbed broadleaf forests in Jamaica. 

Tall Open Dry- this is described as open natural woodland or forest with trees at least 5 metres tall and crowns not in contact;There is 37,559.70 hectares of  Tall open dry forests in Jamaica.

Short Open Dry - this is open scrub, shrub, or brushland with trees or shrubs 1-5 metres tall and crowns not in contact; There is 2,615.11 hectares of short open dry forests in Jamaica. 

Swamp- this is described as Edaphic forest (soil waterlogging) with a single storey with species indicators such as Symphonia globulifera (hog gum) and Roystonea princeps (royal palm);  There is just 122.93 hectares of swamp forests remaining in Jamaica. 

Mangrove - this is Edaphic forest (areas with brackish water) composed of trees mangrove); Within each of these forests are rich ecosystems that provide habitats for a wealth of diverse endemic plant and animal species; There is 9,732.76 hectares of this forest type found in Jamaica. 

Forest Plantations- There is 8,318.95 hectares of this forest type which is inclusive of pine and hardwood; and 121,361.1 hectares of Secondary forest. This new classification, secondary forest, accounts for 28% of the current national acreage under forest. Secondary forest is distinguished from disturbed broadleaf as it has larger percentages of disturbance namely, 15-25% compared to <15% for the latter forest type. There is also a distinction in the indicator species present as secondary forest is in the main comprised of Trumpet Tree (Cecropia peltata), Guango (Samanea saman) and Woman’s tongue (Albizia lebbeck).

How much of Jamaica's land mass is classified as forests?

Approximately 439,937.8 hectares of 40 percent of the island is classified as forest.