DESCRIBING it a prime investment opportunity for growth within the local economy, executive director of Jamaica Protected Areas Trust/Forest Conservation Fund (JPAT/FCF) Allison Rangolan-McFarlane is calling on Jamaicans to plant teak forests.
According to her, teak foresting in developed countries across the globe has provided not only economic growth for their nations, but employment opportunities for individuals.
“Jamaicans should consider planting forests, including teak forests, because they provide a variety of benefits. Teak forests have been established in a number of other countries and can be a good source of lumber which has income-generating potential,” Rangolan-McFarlane told Environment Watch last week.
Her information was based on findings that were presented at a JPAT/FCF Teak Forest seminar at Hotel Four Seasons in Kingston on May 18.
Teak is a yellowish brown timber which is highly weather resistant and is therefore most often used in the manufacture of outdoor furniture, boat decks, indoor florring, countertops and cutting boards. Its natural oils also make the timber termite and pest resistant.
But there are other benefits to teak and forest farming in general.
“Forests stabilise land, reduce soil erosion and land slippage. They provide oxygen. They absorb carbon dioxide. They help to mitigate climate change and they provide habitat for other plants and animals. When forests are managed sustainably, they continue to provide these goods and services for a very long time,” Rangolan-McFarlane said.
“Trees generally perform important ecological functions [and] they have tremendous aesthetic and recreational value. Hope Gardens, for example, has established a teak forest which [is used as] a picnic forest,” she added.
At the JPAT/FCF seminar, Managing Director of the Forest Conservancy Guy Symes also spoke to the economic benefits of teak. Market demand is high, he said, and prices are relatively high compared to other wood types. Symes, between last October and November, attended the International Forestry Conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, to study teak farms in that country. He reported that the activity can provide renewed opportunities for our nation on a whole.
“Private teak forests are being planted in nearly every Latin American country — small, medium and large-scale — on arable lands. Market demand is high and many growers are exporting logs to India, while some are attempting value addition for local and North American markets,” Symes said.
“Prices for plantation teak timber cannot compare with natural teak, but relative values are high compared to other woods,” he further stated.
According to Symes, acres of teak forests have been planted in parishes such as Portland, St Mary, Westmoreland, St Ann, Trelawny, and St Andrew.