JA commits to contributing to UN forest targets

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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Jamaica , through the Forestry Department, has pledged to contribute to the United Nations' target of increasing global forest cover by three per cent by 2030.

That increase would represent 120 million hectares, or more than twice the size of France.

To that end, Jamaica has pledged to:

• Improve watershed management planning (adaptation to climate change) within targeted forest estates to support sustainable forest management;

• Upscale gender sensitive alternative livelihoods to support the sustainable utilisation of forest resources by local communities;

• Increase the areas of mangroves under protection and develop a Mangrove Management and Conservation Plan to support this initiative; and

• Strengthen the policy and legislative framework for the forest sector.

Jamaica made its commitment, called Voluntary National Contributions (VNCs), known at the 13th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests in New York last week.

Speaking on the opening day of the session, CEO and Conservator of Forests Marilyn Headley, who headed the delegation, said that the foundation had already been laid for Jamaica to achieve the targets associated with each stated contribution.

“In the last year we have been able to finalise the Forest Policy and complete the National Forest Management and Conservation Plan. The Forest Plan which was approved by Parliament in February 2018, has provided the necessary foundation for our Voluntary National Contributions,” Headley said.

The global three per cent increase in forest cover is among a set of targets outlined in the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017–2030. The plan, which was adopted in April 2017, supports the objectives of the International Arrangement on Forests and aims to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

In support of global goal one, Headley noted that the country commits to verifying at least 10,000 hectares of forest land to support national level efforts to sustainably manage forest cover. Additionally, she said reforestation efforts will result in the replanting of 300 hectares of denuded land and the maintenance of 1,000 hectares of previously established plantations. Also, the management responsibility for 7,000 hectares of state-owned mangrove forests will be transferred to the Forestry Department.

According to Headley, Jamaica has committed to improving the livelihood options for community members who live in close proximity to the island's forests and in that vein, a minimum of 2 million euros has been identified under the European Union's Budget Support Programme for Jamaica's Forest Sector over the next four years.

“It is anticipated that the benefits from this intervention will result in multiple opportunities for not just the direct beneficiaries of the programme, but the country at large. This will serve to highlight the role that forests play in supporting social, economic and environmental development,” Headley said.

In determining the VNCs, the Forestry Department said consideration was given to the tenets of the recently developed National Action Plan/National Forest Management and Conservation Plan (2016-2026) which, among other things, supports the implementation of the UN Forest Instrument. The 10-year plan has been developed to ensure alignment with Jamaica's international obligations and is geared towards achieving national sustainable development objectives.

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