The Forestry Department is set to benefit from a budget support programme of approximately $2.5 billion from the 11th European Development Fund. The money will be used to assist with the implementation of the Forest Policy for Jamaica (2017) and the supporting National Forest Management and Conservation Plan, 2016-2026.
The programme, “Addressing Environmental and Climate Change Challenges through Improved Forest Management for Jamaica”, will be done over a four year period, and is slated to start in April 2018.
The announcement was made by Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, during the Forest Forum organized by the Forestry Department on International Day of Forests on March 21.
Ambassador Wasilewska said that the programme, which is in the final stages of approval, will form the second biggest of the European Union’s current bilateral cooperation with Jamaica. She further noted that the EU remains strongly committed to supporting achievement of all the sustainable development goals.
“My presence here is a commitment from the European Union and its 28 member states to contribute to the main objective of the programme which aims to sustainably manage and utilize Jamaica’s forest resources to enhance economic development and contribute to building the country’s climate resilience,” she said.
A number of forest dependent communities will receive special attention under the programme as funds have been assigned for the development of livelihoods in these areas.
“As always, the focus of any sector is the improvement of the lives of people living in the communities, so a chunk of those funds will be dedicated to making sure that people living in communities where they cut the forest will find different sources of livelihoods so that the forest can be preserved. And not only that, there is a strong gender element so that women in particular in those communities can benefit from the programme,” Ambassador Wasilewska said.
Meanwhile, Ms. Marilyn Headley, CEO & Conservator of Forests, says the Agency welcomes the programme and is grateful for the budgetary support that will greatly bolster the work of the Agency.
“The next four years will be demanding for the Forestry Department. We have eight indicators with supporting outputs that must be achieved at 100 per cent. I have confidence in the Agency’s team and the various stakeholders in the sector that this will be achieved. We all know the importance of forests and the critical role they play, especially at a time like this with the issue of a changing climate, so we will be doubling all efforts to ensure the success of this programme,” she said.
The areas of focus under the programme are: strengthening the policy and legislative framework of the forest sector; improving watershed management planning within targeted forest estates; supporting Convention on Biological Diversity target compliance through detailed mapping of Mangrove and Swamp Forests leading to the Production of a National Mangrove Management Plan; improving the National Forest Database to target privately owned closed broad leaf and mangrove forests; upscaling gender sensitive alternative livelihoods to support the sustainable utilization of forest resources for local communities; accelerating the Boundary Verification Programme for sustainable and inclusive Forest Management; strengthening gender-sensitive public education and awareness programmes to increase knowledge of climate change mitigation and forest conservation issues; and improving the Biophysical assessment programme to include carbon stock monitoring.