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Mangroves estimated to provide US$32.7-m in protection to Jamaica's coastline

Thursday, November 21, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — A study of Jamaica's mangroves has estimated that they provide approximately US$32.7 million in protection to the island's heavily settled coastline areas, the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation says.

According to the ministry, the study was funded by the Programme on Forests (PROFOR) through the World Bank and involved several stakeholders including the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the University of the West Indies.

The result of the study, entitled “Report Launch of the Forces of Nature Assessment and Economic Valuation of Coastal Protection Services provided by Mangroves in Jamaica (PROFOR Project)" was revealed yesterday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz, noted that even with the presence of mangroves, the estimate of coastal flooding due to storms here in Jamaica has been put at US$136.4 million in damage.

“What is alarming though, is that without mangroves the estimated damage from flooding would be US$169 million annually,” the minister said.

“Our mangroves are therefore estimated to provide US$32.7 million in protection to our coastlines. When you factor in the protection of approximately US$2.4 billion in assets (people and infrastructure) during storms, the value of mangroves is more than US$186 million per hectare of mangrove,” Vaz said.

The minister noted that because of the hilly features of the island's interior, much of Jamaica's physical infrastructure such as electricity generating plants, international airports and seaports, major roadways, among other assets, are located near the coastline.

“Mangroves act as the first and most significant line of defence. Their location between land and sea, their durability and flexibility make them a haven for biodiversity and add to their usefulness and productivity,” he said.

Vaz commended the Forestry Department which he said is currently conducting an assessment of all the mangroves across Jamaica, to determine the national baseline status with regard to spatial distribution, composition and health.

Since the assessment started in January 2019, the Forestry Department has completed approximately 4600 hectares, he said.

“On completion of this national assessment of the approximately 9700 hectares of mangroves identified in the 2013 land use assessment of Jamaica, the information will feed into the development of a National Mangrove Management Plan,” Vaz added.


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