Gov't launches project to protect forests

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Government says it is taking steps to protect and preserve the country's forest cover, through the launch of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Readiness Preparation Project.

The initiative is being implemented by the Forestry Department through US$613,000 in support from the Green Climate Fund.

It is thefirst step in the development of a REDD+ programme, which isaimed at crafting anational strategy to reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions associated with deforestation and forest degradation.

Anumber of measures will be undertaken over the next 28 months under the project, including consultation with stakeholders, preparation of a national REDD+ strategy and the creation of a road map to build capacity to develop a National Forest Monitoring System and a forest reference emission level.

Minister without Portfolio, with responsibility forLand, Environment and Climate Change,Daryl Vaz, who addressed the launch at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston recently, said that “given that 40 per cent of Jamaica is classified as forest it is critical that everything is done to retain this extensive cover”.

He noted that the country's forests are essential to efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“It is a well-known fact that the degradation of our forests is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, which, in turn, contributes to the long-term changes in the climate,” he noted.

Vaz said the 2013 Land-Use Cover/Change Assessment survey conducted by the Forestry Department, found that there was extensive loss of some types of forests. The largest decline was seen in the swamp forest type, which was degraded by more than 2,000 hectares, leaving 122 hectares.

Additionally, there was a decline in closed broadleaf forests or primary forests, with more than 3,500 hectares lost, leaving just over 84,000 hectares.

Vaz said that the impact of the loss of any forest type is serious and includes significant threats to the livelihoods of individuals and communities that rely heavily on forests, loss of biodiversity and ecosystems as well as impacts on agriculture and water resources.

“Therefore, initiatives such as REDD+ are welcome, as they aid us to better manage these resources for the benefit of the current and future generations,” the minister said.

REDD+ is a mechanism introduced by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering positive incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low carbon paths to sustainable development.

It is a timely response to the issue of climate change by encouraging the proper management of forests.


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