THE Forestry Department is to increase its staff complement by 65 per cent over the next few years, as part of efforts to better meet the service needs of the forestry sector.
The actual numbers, according to the department's senior manager of public relations and corporate communication Stephanie Donaldson-Francis, will be from the current 176 to 279 persons.
The increase, which is subject to budgetary constraints, the Jamaica Observer has learnt, is necessitated by the department's ongoing transition into a Type B executive agency, the status it assumed in May 2010.
"The recruitment process is continuing and it includes the employment of persons in new areas, such as silviculture, corporate planning and forest biology," Donaldson-Francis told Environment Watch. "The recruitment will also result in the base of the organisation widening to allow for greater Forestry Department/public interface and interaction."
Silviculture is the branch of forestry concerned with the cultivation of trees.
In addition to widening the staff base, the department is seeking to improve its infrastructure and operational tools and methodologies. As such, their strategic objectives include:
* developing and implementing national and local forest management conservation plans;
* increasing partnerships with the private sector and non-governmental organisations;
* encouraging well-informed and participative stakeholders;
* achieving greater compliance with forest legislation;
* providing policy and technical advice of internationally competitive standards.
They are also looking to build an efficient and effective service delivery organisation with well-trained and customer-focused staff.
Meanwhile, the department noted that the agency received $401.2 million in the 2012-2013 budget, but that the allocation is inadequate.
"However, the Forestry Department has continued to participate in several projects, funded primarily by international agencies, to undertake forest operations activities, such as reforestation and other field work. In addition, we partner with several government and non-government organisations to implement project deliverables," Donaldson-Francis said.