Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 Jamaica sets year-end deadline to ratify Paris Agreement http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Jamaica-sets-year-end-deadline-to-ratify-Paris-Agreement_75792 JAMAICA is expected to deposit its instruments of ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change by year end.<br /> <br /> The Paris Agreement emphasises that climate change is a threat to human society and that there is a growing need for international collaboration, deep reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, establishment of a framework for the involvement of local communities and people with disabilities, and the empowerment of women, among others.<br /> <br /> Speaking with JIS News<br /> <br /> on Thursday, project administrator at the Climate Change Division in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Clifford Mahlung, said the process towards ratification will require Government&rsquo;s approval, which is under way.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are awaiting the assessment from the Attorney General&rsquo;s Department. We are close to hearing from them, and that will allow us to make a submission to Cabinet and then Cabinet will decide that we should go ahead and ratify,&rdquo; he explained.<br /> <br /> The Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 countries at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) held in Paris in December 2015.<br /> <br /> Mahlung said that the ratification means that Jamaica will become a party to the Paris Agreement &ldquo;and so we can become involved and participate in all aspects of the work of the agreement&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> He said that to date, 61 countries have ratified the agreement, adding that there have been commitments from the European Union and India to sign on before the end of the year.<br /> <br /> The Agreement calls on nations that have ratified to pursue their highest possible ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using Nationally Determined Contributions and monitored through a reporting mechanism.<br /> <br /> The overall goal of the Paris Agreement is for countries to take action to keep global temperature rise this century below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels while at the same time using best efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.<br /> <br /> The Agreement will come into force when the total number of countries that have ratified the convention accounts for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13322814/DDP-1_w300.jpg Local News Saturday, October 01, 2016 12:00 AM Wray & Nephew&rsquo;s US$7-M Wastewater Plan http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Wray---Nephew-s-US-7-M-Wastewater-Plan_75356 With its tufts of brown grass interspersed by patches of bare, parched earth, the football field at Wray & Nephew&rsquo;s Spanish Town Road complex has certainly seen better days. But there is a rescue plan afoot for the plot which offers diversion for scores of employees. <br /> <br /> The local wines and spirits producer, which is owned by the Italian-based Campari Group, has installed a wastewater treatment plant from which it intends to irrigate its green areas once it obtains the requisite permit from the environment regulators. That end is still some months off, the company says, as it is still in the commissioning phase of the fully automated plant which has a capacity of 3,000 metres cube per day and cost US$7 million. <br /> <br /> The move, production supply chain director Jorge Gonzalez told the Jamaica Observer, is an investment not only in the environment but in the company&rsquo;s future too, as it positively impacts the bottomline.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Every environmental investment has positive impact. First, it has a positive impact on the brand image and on the company. It reflects who you are and [shows that] you can be trusted as a corporate citizen if you not only comply with the laws but are, in a way, protecting your brand. The second [reason] is sustainability. The operations can be supported non-stop, so you can say the first business argument is to estbalish an operation that is fluid and that will not have any obstacles to run.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It also fosters pride among employees and pride at the place you work is an important thing for us. Reducing the carbon footprint for us is the right thing to do and also it&rsquo;s a commercial message so it helps to build the bottomline,&rdquo; he explained.<br /> <br /> Wray and Nephew previously treated sewage generated on its premises at 234 Spanish Town Road, but the new facility has expanded on that by incorporating sewage, trade effluent and rainwater run-off from all three of the company&rsquo;s properties along the industrial belt.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We linked sewage and trade effluent generated by our north complex, 473 Spanish Town Road, to this treatment plant. So everything we generate at 234, 473 and 232 comes to this plant to be treated,&rdquo;engineering director Kevin Cadogan said.<br /> <br /> The process, he explained, takes all effluent and sewage collected in underground tanks, or sumps, pumps them to an equalisation tank where they are made to interact with air to start the digestion process. A rotary screen drum separates the trash and debris from the liquid. From the equalisation tank, the brown liquid goes to the anoxic selector, then to the oxidation tank where more bacterial decomposition takes place. From there, it&rsquo;s over to the clarifier where solids are separated from clean water and sent for disinfection and eventual discharge.<br /> <br /> The treated water is expelled into the sea via the gully that runs behind Wray & Nephew and through the community of Seaview Gardens.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;All the water that we throw back into nature is treated 100 per cent,&rdquo; Gonzalez told Environment Watch.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not coded as potable but it&rsquo;s in perfect condition and is almost drinkable,&rdquo; he added. <br /> <br /> Although the plant can treat 3,000 cubic metres of wastewater per day, it is currently operating at half that volume.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s designed to take our capacity needs for the next 10-15 years,&rdquo; the production supply chain director said.<br /> <br /> Speaking to the plant&rsquo;s automated features, production director Dwight Balli called it &ldquo;one of the few privately owned fully automated plants in Jamaica right now&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We have a full control panel with real-time automation, so it doesn&rsquo;t just give you what the plant&rsquo;s current state is, but it actually adjusts itself in terms of chemical feeds and air flows based on the activity of the plant,&rdquo; he explained.<br /> <br /> The expansion of wastewater treatment, Gonzalez said was in line with the parent company&rsquo;s environmental policies.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Campari way is to be compliant with the regulations and reduce the carbon footprint to be responsible with the environment and be sustainable in everything we do,&rdquo; he told Environment Watch.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are also ISO-14000 certified, that&rsquo;s the environemtnal certification from ISO, part of the standards is to minimise our footprint in the use of natural resources, so this just falls right into that,&rdquo; Gonzalez said.<br /> <br /> What&rsquo;s more, the company is ISO-22000 certified, which is a food safety standard that mandates it to control all the materials in the production process and ensure that there is a solid recycling programme. As far as Wray & Nephew is concerned, that protects the consumer by preventing the re-use of materials in multiple processes, and reducing the potential for cross-contamination of products.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This is a unique facility for the island,&rdquo; said Gonzalez. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s state of the art. The authorities have said we are setting the standard for the industry, and this is not cheap. It&rsquo;s an installation that cost US$7 million. That&rsquo;s an enormous amount of money and a big investment for the environment.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a long-term investment but it&rsquo;s the right investment because it&rsquo;s a return that continues over time,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13318163/231164_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, September 28, 2016 2:00 AM Sandals Whitehouse grooming young reefers, forest keepers http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Sandals-Whitehouse-grooming-young-reefers--forest-keepers_75041 SANDALS Whitehouse has taken a bold move towards environmental preservation by inducting 21 impressionable young minds into its Reef and Forest Keepers Club &mdash; part of a pilot programme geared at creating future environmental stewards and encouraging a love for the outdoors.<br /> <br /> The programme, a first of its kind for the luxury-included resort, was unofficially launched during a recent five-day science and environment camp at the resort.<br /> <br /> The camp engaged kids ages eight to 12 years old from the neighbouring communities of Beeston Spring, Culloden and Whitehouse with some kids visiting from Black River and Savanna-La-Mar.<br /> <br /> The initiative was supported by the Scientific Research Council, University of Technology&rsquo;s (UTech) Environmental Sciences Division in the Faculty of Science and Sport, among other community and local partners.<br /> <br /> When asked why the resort decided to embark on this initiative, the resort&rsquo;s Environment, Health and Safety Manager Vilma Smith noted that Sandals Resorts International (SRI) prides itself on having developed a robust set of environmental best practices and continuously supports efforts towards environmental protection.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Creating a truly sustainable programme towards the preservation of our natural resources requires the involvement of the larger community, however and our number one safeguard for the future is our children,&rdquo; said Smith.<br /> <br /> Throughout the camp, kids were given instruction in five general science classroom sessions which covered topics including; photosynthesis and plants; ecology and water pollution; food chains/food webs and the Lionfish as an invasive species, among others.<br /> <br /> The highlights of the camp, however, were the field work sessions and trips incorporated into each day&rsquo;s itinerary.<br /> <br /> Among the field trips was an educational tour of the Sandals Whitehouse 16,000-square foot plant nursery, which houses over 70 varieties of plants. The children were also treated to a glass-bottom boat tour of the Whitehouse Marine Sanctuary with marine wardens from the Sandals Foundation. This experience allowed them an opportunity to observe the reef and point out some of the sea creatures which they were learning about in their class sessions.<br /> <br /> A tour of the Beeston Spring Bee Farm proved to be very interesting and informative to the campers and camp facilitators as well.<br /> <br /> Paulette Blackwood, head of the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the Belmont Academy and one of the camp&rsquo;s facilitators, said that the science and environment camp was particularly useful as it provided an opportunity for the participants to learn science concepts in a practical way.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Science needs to be taught in a manner where children can see the practical application of the concepts and not learn the concepts in a vacuum. Throughout the camp, the children were able to transfer and apply the theoretical concepts to the practical aspects through the field visits, and this really captured their attention and piqued their interest,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Sandals Whitehouse Science and Environmental Camp was very informative,&rdquo; said Sianeffe Campbell, another camp participant. &ldquo;I really loved the sessions about the ocean and the marine life and it has definitely left me more interested in science and the natural environment which we often take for granted.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Christine O&rsquo;Sullivan, lecturer in the Environmental Sciences Division at UTech who was also a facilitator at the camp, believes we can always do more to get children involved and interested in the environment and applauded Sandals Whitehouse for this latest effort.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Jamaica already has some great programmes, like the Jamaica Environment Trust&rsquo;s School&rsquo;s Environment Programme, but obviously not every school or student can be reached so the more that&rsquo;s done, the greater the impact,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s important to incorporate information on the environment into every aspect of society so that children and adults alike become more environmentally aware and better stewards for Jamaica&rsquo;s natural resources.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Sandals Whitehouse is intent on playing its part in this regard and their emerging Reef and Forest Keepers Club is one such tool that the luxury-included resort plans on using to accomplish this. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13309216/230498_w300.jpg Local Environment Saturday, September 24, 2016 2:00 AM Climate change dominates opening of 71st session of UN Assembly http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Climate-change-dominates-opening-of-71st-session-of-UN-Assembly_74769 NEW YORK &mdash; The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) kicked off on Tuesday here with more than 140 heads of state and government and a yearly tradition of speeches made to the 193 member states of the chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations. <br /> <br /> This year marks the 71st session of the UNGA, convened under the theme &lsquo;The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world&rsquo;, with particular focus on Goal #13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. <br /> <br /> This high-level week with world leaders is an opportunity for the Kingdom of Morocco to promote the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) set to take place in Marrakech, November 7 to 18. Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, will be on hand for a series of side-events and bilateral meetings aimed at reinforcing and promoting Morocco&rsquo;s climate initiatives, including those on energy, agriculture, capacity building, adaptation and finance, discussing global warming issues affecting the most vulnerable countries and island states, and mobilising the international community for an ambitious global climate action agenda in Marrakech to implement the Paris Agreement.<br /> <br /> United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hosted a special event to encourage parties to ratify the agreement. According to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, as of Tuesday, 29 parties have ratified the agreement, accounting for 40.12 per cent of global emissions. The Kingdom of Morocco will be among approximately 20 countries to deposit their instruments of ratification here during this week&rsquo;s proceedings, inching closer to the 55 per cent necessary for legal entry into force when the agreement takes effect and becomes legally binding for those countries that have joined.<br /> <br /> During his opening remarks, Ban underscored the importance of the climate change agenda. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;With the Paris Agreement we are tackling the defining challenge of our time. We have no time to lose. I urge you to bring the Agreement into force before the end of year. We need 26 more countries equalling 15 per cent of global emissions for entry into force,&rdquo; he stated.<br /> <br /> US President Barack Obama, during his last speech to the UNGA, called on the international community to keep working together to solve global issues including climate change. &ldquo;The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition,&rdquo; he stated.<br /> <br /> UNGA President Peter Thomson, the first from a Pacific Island nation (Fiji), underscored the need to act on climate change to avoid its negative impacts. &ldquo;We are steadily moving towards the ratification of the Paris Agreement. We must not delay any further.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Brazilian President Michel Temer affirmed his country&rsquo;s commitment to fighting global warming, saying: &ldquo;Tomorrow I will deposit Brazil&rsquo;s instruments of ratification of the Paris Agreement.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> As the first African head of state to address the UNGA, Idriss D&eacute;by Itno, president of Chad, highlighted the importance of working with the international community to fight global warming on the continent. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not about giving charity to Africa, it&rsquo;s about true partnership with Africa to tackle climate and global challenges,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> The traditional roll call of speeches to the UNGA starts with the United Nations secretary general, followed by the President of the UNGA, president of Brazil (first Member State to speak in the general debate since the 10th session of the General Assembly) and president of the United States (host country). For all other member states, the speaking order is based on the level of representation, preference and other criteria such as geographic balance. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12418366/Climate_w300.jpg Local News Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Guy Harvey in Jamaica for 30th anniversary documentary, MoBay Marlin Tournament http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Guy-Harvey-in-Jamaica-for-30th-anniversary-documentary--MoBay-Marlin-Tournament_74866 German-born, Jamaican-raised conservationist, artist and marine biologist Guy Harvey is now in Jamaica to participate in the 55th Montego Bay Annual International Marlin Tournament and to continue documenting his life&rsquo;s work in both the art and marine life industries. <br /> <br /> Accompanying Harvey are his family, friends and videographer George Schellenger, who is recording the Jamaican aspect of Harvey&rsquo;s life in the documentary he&rsquo;s currently filming, to be released early next year.<br /> <br /> The documentary is being produced in celebration of Harvey&rsquo;s 30 years in the business of marine art, for which he has become known worldwide and has grown to include apparel and other lifestyle items. <br /> <br /> Schellenger, who has worked with Harvey for the past six years on some 13 documentaries, will capture the artist&rsquo;s visit to his home and other major influences of his life and work. <br /> <br /> So far, they have filmed in Darliston where Harvey grew up. Additionally, he and his team took a tour of the border of Darliston and Bethel Town in an effort to record, in essence, his &lsquo;how it all began&rsquo; story, how his parents influenced the person he&rsquo;s become and how relevant Jamaica is to that story.<br /> <br /> In addition to filming a very significant piece of his life, Harvey is in the second city to spread the message of conservation to this year&rsquo;s Montego Bay marlin tournament participants and anglers. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Most important is this short, to-the-point presentation that I will be giving about why there&rsquo;s a need to conserve billfish, why we need to study them and what we can do to help as citizen scientists,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> In fact, Harvey has been working closely with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Jamaica and introduced catch and release to Jamaica in 1989. He has, over the years, worked at all tournaments across the island &mdash; Montego Bay, Falmouth, Discovery Bay and Port Antonio &mdash; from 1973 to 1993 where over 2,000 marlins were caught and released.<br /> <br /> When asked about the future of marine life in Jamaica, Harvey expressed confidence that things can and will change as long as people are interested and engaged in conservationist methods of sport fishing. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Things have to change because of the rate of extraction, the growth of the human population, the demand on seafood,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The long-term solution should be the next thing&hellip; what are we going to do about it?&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The 55th Montego Bay Annual International Marlin Tournament began on Monday, September 19 with the Canoe Tournament and will run until tomorrow, ending with the Raft up and Beach Party at Doctor&rsquo;s Cave Beach. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306219/230159_57252_repro_w300.jpg Local News Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM CDB exec says region must find new ways to manage marine resources http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/CDB-exec-says-region-must-find-new-ways-to-manage-marine-resources_74765 BRIDGETOWN,Barbados (CMC) &mdash; A senior official of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says regional countries need to find new, efficient and sustainable approaches to managing terrestrial and marine resources.<br /> <br /> CDB Director of Projects Daniel Best told the first biennial Caribbean Coastal Conference here that this initial dialogue on the coastal agenda in the Caribbean should lay the groundwork for galvanising action, improving policy, and guiding management of this critical resource.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;More than 60 per cent of our region&rsquo;s population live in coastal areas and almost all of the region&rsquo;s main urban centres, critical infrastructure such as ports and transportation corridors, are located less than one kilometre from the coast,&rdquo; Best said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our coastal environments not only provide these socio-economic services, but also important ecological services,to which we hardly give serious consideration: storm protection, erosion control, freshwater storage and retention, nutrient recycling and atmospheric and climate control,&rdquo; he told delegates to the conference that ended here last week.<br /> <br /> Best noted that in the Caribbean, there has been increasing conflict around the use of coastal space. Growing environmental challenges also pose a threat to the sustainable use of these resources.<br /> <br /> He noted that, while climate change and climate variability are expected to further exacerbate these already complex coastal management issues, efforts have to be made to address the situation.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This is no easy task. It requires a number of key actions: applying cross-sectoral approaches to policy and management; the development of national and local plans appropriate for local conditions and circumstances to prevent damage and restore infrastructure where it occurs; the development of tools and guidance resources; and capturing, archiving and giving stakeholders access to a range of data and information needs,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> The two-day conference on the advancement of the coastal agenda was organised in collaboration with Caribbean coastal engineering company, Smith Warner International Ltd, and was attended by representatives from the CDB&rsquo;s borrowing member countries.<br /> <br /> The delegates discussed a number of topics, including the characteristics and economics of coastal resources; regulating and managing the coastal zone; underused and overlooked critical tools for sustainable coastal management; and climate change implications and solutions.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13303780/228882__w300.jpg Local News Thursday, September 22, 2016 12:00 AM International Clean-up Day working in the west http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/International-Clean-up-Day-working-in-the-west_74803 LUCEA, Hanover &mdash; Project manager at the Rotary Club of Lucea Mervin Spence says it appears that residents of Lucea and its environs are becoming more conscious about the need for a clean environment. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;People are getting more educated about garbage and, speaking to the community, they are more passionate about keeping the community clean because they realise the health risk, especially with the Zika virus. A lot of them are talking about that they don&rsquo;t want their baby to born with small heads, so I think that is getting through to the public,&rdquo; Spence said. <br /> <br /> He was speaking with the Jamaica Observer West on Saturday during the International Coastal Clean-up Day project at the Seaview Drive Beach in Lucea. <br /> <br /> The day&rsquo;s activities were a joint effort between the Grand Palladium hotel in Hanover, the Rotary Club and Rotaract Club of Lucea and community members. <br /> <br /> The clean-up exercise started at the Bull&rsquo;s Bay Public Beach with Rotaract members who later joined with members of the elder counterpart, Rotary, and workers from the Grand Palladium Hotel along with community members &mdash; removing over 2,000 plastic bottles from the beach. <br /> <br /> But, despite the amount of garbage removed, the Rotary Club claimed that less garbage, including used condoms, were removed this year in comparison to 2015. <br /> <br /> President of the Rotary Club of Lucea, Winfield Murray, said with the club&rsquo;s motto, &lsquo;Giving Service Above Thyself&rsquo;, it was fitting for it to partner with the Grand Palladium Hotel over the past four years in International Coastal Clean-up projects. <br /> <br /> For her part, the Grand Palladium&rsquo;s Quality Control Manager Shalieann Brown said, apart from the hotel being a sponsor of the beach area in Lucea, management was fully aware of the importance of protecting the beach, noting that there is more than one sea turtle nesting site near the hotel. <br /> <br /> Meanwhile, in the neighbouring parish of St James, about 200 volunteers turned up at the Closed Harbour Beach, popularly known as &lsquo;Dump Up Beach&rsquo; to participate in the major, one-day beach clean-up exercise. <br /> <br /> An estimated 1, 600 pounds of garbage was collected during the St James activities. <br /> <br /> The project, which was sponsored by the Sandals Foundation in the Montego Bay region, in partnership with the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust, is part of a continued initiative aimed at raising awareness about environmental practices that negatively impact the island&rsquo;s natural resources, and encourages citizens and other major stakeholders within the tourism industry to be mindful of issues relating to improper disposal of used materials. <br /> <br /> Regional Public Relations Manager Khadine Daley, noted that &ldquo;each year, the Sandals Foundation ambassadors from Sandals Montego Bay, Sandals Royal Caribbean and Sandals Carlyle are eager to venture out into the communities to engage in environmental projects such as these and to work alongside other groups and stakeholders&rdquo;. <br /> <br /> International Coastal Clean-up Day was started 31 years ago by Ocean Conservancy as an annual global day of action. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13303694/230043__w300.jpg Local Environment Thursday, September 22, 2016 12:00 AM 16,000 lbs of garbage! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/16-000-lbs-of-garbage-_74644 Volunteers from corporate companies, schools, social clubs, etc, who worked the Palisadoes Strip in Kingston on Saturday morning &mdash; observed around the world as International Coastal Cleanup &mdash; carted off 1,100 bags of garbage weighing some 16,000 lbs, according to initial estimates from Jamaica Environment Trust (JET).<br /> <br /> That does not include the amount removed from the 143 other land and underwater sites across the island where the activity was carried out.<br /> <br /> Among the find were old refrigerators, air conditioning units, fans, television sets, tyres and other car parts, boat parts, over 60 pounds of fibreglass, items of clothing, tobacco packaging, and piles and piles of plastic beverage bottles and styrofoam food containers.<br /> <br /> In the Palisadoes area alone there were 2,500 volunteers &mdash; 1,500 at Fort Rocky, and 1,000 shared between the end of the stone revetment close to the round-about at the airport and the harbour side of the road to Port Royal.<br /> <br /> The numbers are an improvement on last year&rsquo;s, which featured some 1,900 volunteers.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We realised that we could clean a larger area if we spread the volunteers out over a larger area,&rdquo; JET&rsquo;s Deputy CEO Suzanne Stanley told the Jamaica Observer, explaining the addition of the two satellite sites to the flagship Fort Rocky location. <br /> <br /> In terms of islandwide figures, JET&rsquo;s target was to surpass 10,000 volunteers.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The initial numbers suggest that we may not have reached 10,000 islandwide like we wanted, but we won&rsquo;t be sure until about a month from now when all the data has been submitted,&rdquo; she said. <br /> <br /> Still, according to Stanley, Saturday&rsquo;s activity was a success. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got really positive feedback,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> ICC is coordinated locally by JET on behalf of Ocean Conservancy, the US non-profit that started the initiative 30 years ago.<br /> <br /> Below are scenes from several sites across the island. See more on Page 19.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13300954/229707_56989_repro_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, September 21, 2016 12:00 AM PHOTO: Hellshire Beach clean-up http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Hellshire-Beach-clean-up_74442 Claudine McCalla Miller (centre) Scotiabank director, employee consultation explains to a group of Scotia volunteers the serious impact of plastic on marine life and the ecosystem. McCalla Miller was at the start of the beach clean-up at Hellshire Beach on Saturday. (Photo: Collin Reid) http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13296924/229274_w300.jpg Local News Monday, September 19, 2016 2:00 AM &lsquo;Land of soda bottles and styrofoam boxes&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/-Land-of-soda-bottles-and-styrofoam-boxes-_73777 Just days ahead of International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) Day this Saturday, when thousands of volunteers will work to clear 142 beach and underwater sites across the island of garbage, one private sector manager is deploring the act of irresponsible garbage disposal, while urging Jamaicans at large to support the one-day initiative. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Jamaica would not be called the land of wood and water if it were being named today. It would be called the &lsquo;land of soda bottles and styrofoam boxes,&rsquo;&rdquo; said Chris Hind, general manager of JN General Insurance Company (JNGI). &ldquo;Too many people dump their rubbish anywhere that is convenient, and much of this waste ends up along the sea coast.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> A team of 50 of Hind&rsquo;s staff and their family members were among the volunteers that worked the four-mile Fort Rocky Beach on the Palisadoes peninsula last year, and they are planning to be part of the effort this year as well.<br /> <br /> According to data from Ocean Conservancy, the United States agency that coordinates the one-day clean-up project, more than 80 per cent of trash on beaches in the Caribbean comes from the dumping of fast food containers and sports and recreational activities. The garbage remains in the environment for hundreds of years, threatening fish and other marine life.<br /> <br /> ICC Day is coordinated locally by Jamaica Environment Trust. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;As an insurer, we at JNGI are involved in insuring the value of assets; however, assets lose their value and become more prone to natural hazards in a degraded environment, and a garbage-strewn beach has a negative impact on the people, as well as the wildlife which use it,&rdquo; the JNGI head stressed.<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13284267/228404__w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, September 14, 2016 12:00 AM Caribbean Sea earns US$400B a year http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Caribbean-Sea-earns-US-400B-a-year_73840 A World Bank report released yesterday has put the economic value of the Caribbean Sea to the region &mdash; to include all its services, from fishing, transport, trade, tourism, mining, waste disposal, energy, carbon sequestration and drug development &mdash; at US$407 billion per year based on 2012 data, or just shy of 18 per cent of the region&rsquo;s total GDP. <br /> <br /> The figure, it concedes, is an underestimation because the region&rsquo;s ocean economy to date &ldquo;is not well measured or understood&rdquo;. Nonetheless, it is projected to nearly double by 2050. In tandem with that increase in economic activity and earning is a projected rise in the number of threats to the ocean from the very activities which it supports.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;In the Caribbean Sea, 70 per cent of beaches are eroded due to destroyed reefs, sea level rise, [and] excessive coastal development. Eighty per cent of living coral is now dead and lost, 85 per cent of wastewater is untreated and dumped into the sea. By 2030, plastics will surpass the weight of fish in the sea,&rdquo; said World Bank senior economist and co-author of the report, Pawan Patil. <br /> <br /> The other authors were John Virdin, Sylvia Michele Diaz, Julian Roberts, and Asha Singh.<br /> <br /> The team found, too, that 46,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to be afloat on every square mile of the ocean. That puts the Caribbean Sea&rsquo;s US$5-billion annual trade, its 200,000 direct jobs, its 100,000 ancillary services, food security for 40 million coastal inhabitants, and over US$2 billion in dive tourism at risk.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The goal, then, is to decouple economic growth from environmental decline,&rdquo; according to the report.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Caribbean needs the ocean as a source of wealth but it also needs to protect the ocean as a future source of wealth,&rdquo; World Bank Country Manager for the Caribbean Sophie Sirtaine said, stressing the need for the oceans to be sustainably developed. <br /> <br /> She was speaking at the media launch of the report at the World Bank&rsquo;s Washington office, in which journalists from the region participated via the Internet and phone.<br /> <br /> The report, titled &lsquo;Toward a Blue Economy: A promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean,&rsquo; was released ahead of the third Our Ocean conference to be hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, DC, tomorrow and Thursday, and International Coastal Clean-up Day to be observed on Saturday.<br /> <br /> It examines how the blue economy &mdash; loosely defined as the sustainable balance of economic earning activities with preservation of the natural environment &mdash; may be achieved in the region. Among its key recommendations are:<br /> <br /> &bull; Develop and strengthen regional and national policies to better integrate the governance framework for the Caribbean Sea. Clear, coordinated mechanisms for integrated coastal and ocean management implemented across relevant sectors such as fisheries, tourism, transport, energy, and environment will be essential.<br /> <br /> &bull; Implement policies for a healthy, resilient, and productive marine environment in the Caribbean<br /> <br /> . Policies should explicitly reflect the principle that coastal communities&rsquo; livelihoods and the economy generally depend on the health of the oceans. <br /> <br /> &bull; Provide education and raise awareness about the blue economy<br /> <br /> . Many small Caribbean states have chronic gaps in skills in marine research, planning, and decision-making. Professional training programmes will need to shift gears to meet this demand. For the countries&rsquo; populations at large, basic education about the ocean&rsquo;s role in future prosperity will help raise awareness and create political will for needed changes.<br /> <br /> &bull; Ensure maritime surveillance, monitoring, and enforcement<br /> <br /> . In many countries, illegal fishing by neighbouring states is a key concern. Small Caribbean states need to enhance capabilities to identify threats to their maritime space in a timely manner by sharing and integrating intelligence, surveillance, and navigation systems into a common operating picture. Regional cooperation on these issues will allow sharing of limited resources. <br /> <br /> &bull; Build the infrastructure for a blue economy. Improved coastal and port infrastructure is a critical asset for economic growth and development in Caribbean small states. Once constructed, it must be protected, notably from flooding and sea surges, given its frequent siting near sea level. Rather than fortifying these assets, a more affordable approach is often to restore natural barriers that reduce hazards of flooding and erosion.<br /> <br /> &bull; Support research and development for a blue economy<br /> <br /> . Research & Development supports sustainable economic growth and job creation, as well as informed governance and regulation of the marine sector. At present, the region suffers from a general paucity of data relating to its waters. States would do well to buttress their own data collection and also to seek better access to the findings of the numerous international research vessels that cross the Caribbean Sea to carry out hydrographic/bathymetric surveys, biological sampling, and environmental characterisation.<br /> <br /> &bull; Support business development and sustainable finance. The region&rsquo;s countries need policies to promote investment in existing blue economy enterprises and in new ones. In the island states, the greatest potential for value addition and job creation may be in small and medium-sized enterprises within the blue economy value chains. Finance for start-up and help with capacity and technology development will be crucial for these firms.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The report highlights the opportunities offered by the Caribbean blue economy and identifies priority areas for action that can generate blue growth and opportunities for all Caribbean people, while ensuring that oceans and marine ecosystems are sustainably managed and used,&rdquo; said Sirtaine.<br /> <br /> The analysis was conducted in collaboration with The Commonwealth Secretariat, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. Work started in April 2015.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;At 2.75 million square kilometres, the Caribbean Sea covers less than one per cent of the world&rsquo;s ocean area, but is a crucial resource in the Caribbean, in particular for the 40 million people who inhabit its small island states,&rdquo; the World Bank said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The Caribbean Sea represents a tremendous economic asset for the region not only in terms of high-value natural resources such as fish stocks, oil and gas, but also as a global hot spot for marine diversity and tourism. Maintaining ocean health is synonymous with growing ocean wealth, and finding this balance is how we&rsquo;ll be able to better invest in the Caribbean blue economy,&rdquo; Patil added. <br /> <br /> The authors highlighted 10 principles for investment in a Caribbean blue economy and provide a framework for policymakers to set smart policy and measure economic and environmental benefits. They made reference to the sub-region of the Eastern Caribbean (EC), and described its Eastern Caribbean Regional Ocean Policy and Action Plan as a good first step, and profiled Grenada, the EC&rsquo;s &ldquo;first country to develop a vision for blue growth&rdquo;, which includes a high-value seafood export business to the US and nearby Martinique. <br /> <br /> Yesterday, Patil said finance ministers and central bank governors from the wider Caribbean have approached the World Bank in support of the thrust towards developing the blue economy and that there was hope that the discussions will lead to a larger project that will include the rest of the region.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not too late to turn the tide of any of the unsustainable actions now being practised,&rdquo; Patil told journalists.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13284268/228393__w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, September 14, 2016 2:00 AM Deadline for CCIC Accelerator programme is Sept 9 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Deadline-for-CCIC-Accelerator-programme-is-Sept-9_73191 APPLICATIONS for the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center&rsquo;s (CCIC) Accelerator Programme will close on Friday, September 9.<br /> <br /> The six-month programme, which offers mentorship, guidance as well as resources to entrepreneurs in the field of &lsquo;clean energy&rsquo;, seeks to promote climate change mitigation.<br /> <br /> Executive Director of the Scientific Research Council (SRC) Dr Cliff Riley, speaking at a JIS &lsquo;Think Tank&rsquo; yesterday, said the objectives of the programme are to enable the building of an ecosystem of &lsquo;clean energy&rsquo; in the Caribbean, to promote mentorship and help to promote economic development and job creation through clean technology. <br /> <br /> Through the programme, companies involved in the areas of energy efficiency; sustainable agriculture; renewable energy; waste-water management and resource-use efficiency, are given the opportunity to network as well as assistance in developing and bringing their product to market.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Several entrepreneurs were never trained [in entrepreneurial skills], how to put your business together, how to present that idea or how to pitch that idea to secure financing. Therefore, this is where the CCIC comes in,&rdquo; Dr Riley said. <br /> <br /> He is encouraging entrepreneurs to become a part of the programme. &ldquo;There are many opportunities here in Jamaica and in the region to support entrepreneurship and innovation and we want our people to fully capitalise on these opportunities,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Marketing officer at the CCIC, Cashyaka McDonald, said that companies will get access to a plethora of mentors from various industries, who will guide them in steps to take in improving their clean-energy business. They will also get access to grant funding through the CCIC.<br /> <br /> Companies wanting to participate should be between the &lsquo;proof of concept&rsquo; and &lsquo;seed&rsquo; phases of the innovation process. <br /> <br /> To register for the accelerator programme, persons may go to www.caribbeancic.org/launchit.<br /> <br /> The Accelerator Programme is undertaken by the CCIC to develop the clean technology ecosystem of the Caribbean. It is a three-year funded project being operated with a grant of US$1.5 million from the World Bank. <br /> <br /> The CCIC is a consortium under the Scientific Research Council (SRC) and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute in Trinidad. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13268643/227006__w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, September 07, 2016 12:00 AM Trash free waters http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Trash-free-waters_73125 The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently launc<br /> <br /> hed a pilot programme they hope will stem the flow of solid waste into the island&rsquo;s waterways.<br /> <br /> The initiative, dubbed &lsquo;Trash Free Waters&rsquo;, will see the agencies and their partners in the private and public sectors ramping up use of and support for various strategies, including a prohibition of single-use plastics.<br /> <br /> The initiative is in line with the Regional Action Plan for Marine Litter Management in the Wider Caribbean Region recently developed by UNEP&rsquo;s Caribbean Environment Programme.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This Regional Action Plan proposes an integrated waste-management approach, including improved collection, transport and disposal of solid waste, transition to prohibiting the use and importation of single-use plastics, providing incentives to manufacturers to reformulate products and finding innovative ways to design packaging so they are degradable or more easily recycled,&rdquo; said programme officer with responsibility for the pollution sub-programme at the Jamaica-based UNEP-CEP secretariat, Christopher Corbin.<br /> <br /> The programme has received the support of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the US Peace Corps, which has committed to have its volunteers develop and implement waste-management programmes in communities islandwide.<br /> <br /> Ambassador Sheila Sealy Monteith, permanent secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, who officially launched the initiative on Thursday, August 18 at NEPA&rsquo;s head office in Kingston, said that Jamaica, as a small island developing state that is highly supportive of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is committed to ensuring that the country&rsquo;s development plans are aligned with the 2030 Agenda.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;To that end, we will continue to pay particular attention to the state of our seas and coastal areas. It is in this connection that we view today&rsquo;s launch of the Trash Free Waters Initiative as one of many concrete actions that will drive national policy on solid waste management and prevention of marine litter,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, Peter Knight, chief executive officer of NEPA, pointed out that a collaborative approach is needed to address the issue of waste management in the country.<br /> <br /> NEPA says Trash Free Waters is the latest in a series of programmes in which it is involved, with a view to getting Jamaicans to adopt a more responsible approach to waste management. Earlier this year, the agency unveiled an eight-foot plastic monster at its Kingston headquarters as part of its Don&rsquo;t Feed the Plastic Monster public education campaign to discourage single-use plastic bags.<br /> <br /> The agency announced, too, that it will launch Adopt-a-Beach on International Coastal Clean-up Day &mdash; September 17, 2016 &mdash; to get service clubs, churches, community groups and companies involved in the clean-up and long-term maintenance of specific sections of the coastline. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13268599/227012_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, September 07, 2016 12:00 AM Giant panda no longer endangered, experts say http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Giant-panda-no-longer-endangered--experts-say_73076 BEIJING, China (AP) &mdash; A leading international group has taken the giant panda off its endangered list, thanks to decades of conservation efforts, but China&rsquo;s Government discounted the move on Monday, saying it did not view the status of the country&rsquo;s beloved symbol as any less serious.<br /> <br /> The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said in a report released Sunday that the panda is now classified as a &ldquo;vulnerable&rdquo; instead of &ldquo;endangered&rdquo; species, reflecting its growing numbers in the wild in southern China. It said the wild panda population jumped to 1,864 in 2014 from 1,596 in 2004, the result of work by Chinese agencies to enforce poaching bans and expand forest reserves.<br /> <br /> The report warned, however, that although better forest protection has helped increase panda numbers, climate change is predicted to eliminate more than 35 per cent of its natural bamboo habitat in the next 80 years, potentially leading to another decline.<br /> <br /> In a statement to The Associated Press, China&rsquo;s State Forestry Administration said Monday that it disputed the classification change because pandas&rsquo; natural habitats have been splintered by natural and human causes. The animals live in small, isolated groups of as few as 10 pandas that struggle to reproduce and face the risk of disappearing altogether, the agency said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If we downgrade their conservation status, or neglect or relax our conservation work, the populations and habitats of giant pandas could still suffer irreversible loss and our achievements would be quickly lost,&rdquo; the forestry administration said. &ldquo;Therefore, we&rsquo;re not being alarmist by continuing to emphasise the panda species&rsquo; endangered status.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Still, animal groups hailed the recovery of the bamboo-gobbling, black-and-white bear that has long been a symbol of China and the global conservation movement.<br /> <br /> The panda population reached an estimated low of less than 1,000 in the 1980s, due to poaching and deforestation, until Beijing threw its full weight behind preserving the animal, which has been sent to zoos around the world as a gesture of Chinese diplomatic goodwill.<br /> <br /> The Chinese Government and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) first established the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan province in 1980. Wild panda numbers have slowly rebounded as China cracked down on the skin trade and gradually expanded its protected forest areas to now cover 1.4 million hectares (5,400 square miles).<br /> <br /> International groups and the Chinese Government have worked to save wild pandas and breed them at enormous cost, attracting criticism that the money could be better spent saving other animals facing extinction. The IUCN drew attention on Sunday to the 70 per cent decline in the eastern gorilla population over the past 20 years.<br /> <br /> But the WWF, whose logo has been a panda since 1961, celebrated the panda&rsquo;s re-classification, saying it proved that aggressive investment does pay off &ldquo;when science, political will, and engagement of local communities come together&rdquo;. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13268598/226721_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, September 07, 2016 2:00 AM PHOTO: Let&rsquo;s save the parrotfish http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Let-s-save-the-parrotfish_73155 From left) Environment, health and safety managers at Sandals Resorts International Vilma Smith and Danielle Kitson; Xavier Sterling, member of the Reef Keeper Environmental Club; Sandals Whitehouse Marine Sanctuary manager, Diego Salmon; Environmental Sciences Lecturer at the University of Technology, Christine O&rsquo;Sullivan; and Haveland Honeyghan of the Gilling&rsquo;s Gully Fisherman&rsquo;s Co-operative were among 26 attendees at a recently held parrotfish training session hosted by Sandals Whitehouse&rsquo;s Environment, Health and Safety Department. The session, one of several to be conducted under Sandals Resorts International&rsquo;s &lsquo;Save the Parrotfish, Save Our Islands&rsquo; campaign, allowed attendees to discuss the issue of the declining parrotfish population and share ideas on the possible steps to be taken to regulate the fishing industry and save the parrotfish. Kitson shared information on the important role of the parrotfish in protecting and preserving our coastal and marine resources and fielded questions from fishermen, students, marine wardens and members of the Reef Keepers Club. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13269709/226941_w300.jpg Local News Wednesday, September 07, 2016 2:00 AM Eastern gorilla gets added to critically endangered list http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Eastern-gorilla-gets-added-to-critically-endangered-list-------_73044 HONOLULU, USA (AP) &mdash; The world&rsquo;s largest living primate has been listed as critically endangered, making four of the six great ape species only one step away from extinction, according to a report released Sunday at the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.<br /> <br /> The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, cited illegal hunting in downgrading the status of the eastern gorilla on its Red List of Endangered Species. The list contains more than 80,000 species, and almost 24,000 of those are threatened with extinction.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;To see the eastern gorilla &mdash; one of our closest cousins &mdash; slide toward extinction is truly distressing,&rdquo; Inger Andersen, IUCN director general, said in a statement. &ldquo;Conservation action does work and we have increasing evidence of it. It is our responsibility to enhance our efforts to turn the tide and protect the future of our planet.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The organisation said an estimated 5,000 eastern gorillas remain in the wild, a decline of about 70 per cent over the past 20 years.<br /> <br /> Of all the great ape species &mdash; the eastern gorilla, western gorilla, Bornean orangutan, Sumatran orangutan, chimpanzee, and bonobo &mdash; only the chimpanzee and bonobo are not considered critically endangered. But they are listed as endangered.<br /> <br /> For the gorillas of the Congo, where the majority of the population lives, conservation will be a struggle because of political instability, said primatologist Russell Mittermeier, executive vice-chairman of the conservation international environmental group and chairman of IUCN&rsquo;s primates specialist group.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There are no simple solutions right now, other than a much greater investment in on-the-ground protection until the region stabilises, at which time major ecotourism, as is happening in the neighbouring countries of Uganda and Rwanda, can take place,&rdquo; Mittermeier said in an email to The Associated Press.<br /> <br /> In an interview, Catherine Novelli, US undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, called the gorilla numbers a man-made tragedy.<br /> <br /> The research by the Wildlife Conservation Society was accepted by the IUCN, which is made up of private and government entities and is hosting the World Conservation Congress. More than 9,000 delegates from over 180 countries are attending this week&rsquo;s conference in Honolulu, including several heads of state.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Critical endangered status will raise the profile of this gorilla subspecies and bring attention to its plight. It has tended to be the neglected ape in Africa, despite being the largest ape in the world,&rdquo; the study&rsquo;s lead scientist, Andrew Plumptre, said in an email.<br /> <br /> The IUCN compiles its peer-reviewed Red List alongside partners such as universities and environmental groups within animals&rsquo; natural habitat. It is the most comprehensive analysis of endangered species and guides government policy around the world, said Cristian Samper, president and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society.<br /> <br /> Other animals on the list fared better than the apes, including the giant panda, which was previously on the endangered list. It is now listed as &ldquo;vulnerable&rdquo; after conservation efforts helped protect its habitat.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;For over 50 years, the giant panda has been the globe&rsquo;s most beloved conservation icon,&rdquo; said Marco Lambertini, director general of the environmental group World Wildlife Fund. &ldquo;Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world&rsquo;s wildlife.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Hunting and habitat destruction are taking a toll on animals and plants in variety of areas, the report said.<br /> <br /> In Hawaii, about 90 per cent of native plants are threatened with extinction because of invasive species like rats, pigs and non-native plants, the IUCN said.<br /> <br /> In Africa, the plains zebra population has declined by a quarter since 2002, according to the group&rsquo;s statement. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13268597/226863_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, September 07, 2016 2:00 AM NSWMA clamps down on illegal August Town dump http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/NSWMA-clamps-down-on-illegal-August-Town-dump_72632 THE National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) says it will be taking immediate steps to put a stop to activities at the site of an illegal dump in Bedward Gardens in August Town, St Andrew.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Anyone caught dumping here will pay dearly; the law is quite clear as it relates to dumping and who operates dumps [so] we will have to enforce the law. We cannot allow this threat, this huge threat to the environment to continue,&rdquo; said chief technical officer at the NSWMA, Audley Gordon.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Our enforcement team, working in collaboration with the police, will have to open their eyes wider and be more vigilant so we can try and catch somebody,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If we catch the first one and try and make an example, then we will be on our way [so] the enforcement team is charged to put this as their number one priority and to go at it with everything that they have,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Gordon, accompanied by a team from the NSWMA and other agencies during a tour of the dump Wednesday, said that an investigation would be launched to find out who were the people behind the operation of the illegal dump.<br /> <br /> Said Gordon: &ldquo;This is a big dump; this did not accumulate overnight or over one or two months. This look like several years.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This must be something that is dealt with as a matter of priority and we will be bringing all the arms of Government to deal with it.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Gordon, who also took note of a nearby informal settlement and illegal sand mining at the dump site, said that those matters will also be addressed following consultations with the people involved and all the relevant stakeholders.<br /> <br /> At the sane time, Charles Simpson, director of compliance and enforcement at the NSWMA, said, &ldquo;Our first plan of action is to thoroughly investigate and to find out as much as we possibly can as to the genesis of it, who is doing it, who is breaking the law, and to take the appropriate action&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> Simpson said that the team, following consultation will the other relevant stakeholders, ,will devise a strategy to deal with the issue, which he described as a &ldquo;clear and present danger&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;And soon as we have that in place we will be working assiduously,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> Wednesday&rsquo;s tour followed a report in the media that the dump was being operated by thugs in the community who reportedly collect money from truck drivers to dump their waste at the site.<br /> <br /> However, while the NSWMA and other agencies appeared to have been in the dark about the illegal dump, Inspector Steven Taylor from the August Town Police Station told the<br /> <br /> Jamaica Observer that the police have known about the problem for years and have written to several agencies, including the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, but the matter was not addressed.<br /> <br /> The police, he said, will continue to educate people about illegal dumping and patrol the area to ensure that dumping is discontinued.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, residents of August Town, who were nearby while the tour was going on, were noticeably upset about reports that the illegal dump was being controlled by &ldquo;thugs&rdquo; and that the dump was on top of a playing field.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Nutten no go so &lsquo;bout no thugs; no thugs no deh yah,&rdquo; said one resident, who said that even before the imprisonment of a former reputed community leader &ldquo;anybody can go dump off a truck and collect&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;No playing field never deh deh (over there) in the first place; is a inna the road the youths dem play,&rdquo; another man said.<br /> <br /> According to the residents, the area that is being used for the dump was actually a gully that they have dumped up so that they can get the space to build a community centre.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;A we create the land and a build we a try build something so that the children can have something to motivate them,&rdquo; one man said.<br /> <br /> However, they admitted that people in the community have been collecting money from truck drivers who dump construction waste on the land, noting that the money that is collect is used to pay for the services of tractor to level off the land.<br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13258409/225836_w300.jpg Local News Friday, September 02, 2016 2:00 AM 22 per cent of forests lost in 14 years   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/22-per-cent-of-forests-lost-in-14-years_72487 Drought in Sao Paulo. Flooding in the Himalayas. And pollution in Sumatra. These three distinct water crises have a common cause &mdash; degradation in forests.<br /> <br /> That&rsquo;s because upstream, forests, wetlands and other &ldquo;natural infrastructure&rdquo; play a critical role in supplying clean water downstream. They stabilise soil and reduce erosion, regulate water flow to mitigate floods and droughts, and purify water. Yet the world&rsquo;s major watersheds lost six per cent of their tree cover on average from 2000-2014, putting citizens at risk of losing their water supplies.<br /> <br /> Global Forest Watch (GFW) Water, a global mapping tool and database launched yesterday, examines how forest loss, fires, unsustainable land use and other threats to natural infrastructure affect water security throughout the world. GFW Water provides data sets, statistics and risk scores for all of the world&rsquo;s 230 watersheds, areas of land where all of the water drains to a common outlet such as a river. Users can drop a pin anywhere to learn about the risks to the water supply near them, and find resources on how investing in natural infrastructure protection can help alleviate these threats.<br /> <br /> Findings from GFW Water reveal some of the watersheds most threatened by forest loss, fires and erosions:<br /> <br /> Recent Forest Loss in Sumatra, Indonesia Watershed<br /> <br /> As forests are cut down or converted to other land uses, their ability to regulate flow and purify water diminishes, putting communities at risk of flood, drought, higher water treatment costs and greater incidence of drinking water contamination.<br /> <br /> The watershed of Sumatra, Indonesia, experienced the most forest loss from 2000-2014, losing more than 22 per cent of its forest cover (eight million hectares, or an area about the size of South Carolina). Research shows that agricultural expansion, logging and infrastructure extension as a result of expanding global markets for pulp, timber and oil palm are among the major drivers. Forest clearing in the region has intensified floods, landslides, fires and water pollution.<br /> <br /> Natural infrastructure approaches can mitigate and prevent further damage in watersheds like Sumatra. Establishing conservation zones, engaging in agroforestry and other sustainable forestry practices and regulating road development can help.<br /> <br /> Historical Forest Loss in Krishna, India Watershed<br /> <br /> Forest loss that took place decades ago &mdash; prior to 2,000 &mdash; also leads to changes in water flow, higher sediment levels and more, and the impacts are often more uncertain compared to recent forest loss.<br /> <br /> According to GFW Water, watersheds lost more than half of their forests prior to 2,000. The watershed of Krishna, India, was once covered by forests, but fewer than three per cent of these trees remain today as a result of urbanisation and cropland expansion. Communities in the area suffer from frequent droughts and floods, as well as high levels of water pollution from agricultural run-off. Sedimentation is a recurring challenge to reservoirs and dams.<br /> <br /> Planting new seedlings in deforested areas, enhancing natural forest generation, and integrating trees with crops and ranchlands could help watersheds like Krishna.<br /> <br /> Erosion in the Philippines Watershed<br /> <br /> Erosion is a significant problem that affects both water quality and quantity. High erosion deteriorates water quality and reduces reservoir capacity, increasing the cost of water treatment and the risk of contamination. High erosion risk is usually linked to erodible soil, intense rainfall, steep topography and conversion of forest and other natural lands to pasture, cropland and more.<br /> <br /> The Philippines watershed faces some of the highest erosion rates as a result of highly erodible soil, a long and intense rainy season, mountainous landscapes and expansive agriculture. The region frequently suffers from landslides. In 2006, following days of heavy rain, a massive mudslide occurred in the province of Southern Leyte, causing widespread damage and loss of life.<br /> <br /> Planting or maintaining vegetation along roads and waterways to capture sediments and pollutants; creating barriers on steep slopes to slow soil movement; and reducing the amount of pesticides, fertilisers, animal waste and other agricultural products entering waterways can help watersheds threatened with erosion.<br /> <br /> Fires in Angola, Coast Watershed<br /> <br /> Fires are a common disturbance in some forests, damaging both watersheds and communities nearby. High intensity or large fires can increase agricultural run-off, cause erosion and kill trees, all of which can negatively impact water quality and flow.<br /> <br /> In the watershed of Angola, Coast, NASA satellites detected more than 130,000 fire occurrences annually for the past 10 years. Over the past 24 hours alone, there were 267 fire alerts (data retrieved on August 29, 2016). This is a common occurrence in western Africa as farmers often use fire to fertilise soil and clear the field of unwanted vegetation.<br /> <br /> In areas like western Africa where fires are deliberately set to manage land, alternative solutions such as growing crops in between woody plants can help prevent unwanted vegetation while bringing other benefits like improved crop production and erosion control. In regions like California where dense forests fuel catastrophic wildfire, mechanical forest thinning and controlled burns can reduce wildfire severity and related sediment and ash pollution.<br /> <br /> In the face of growing water challenges, we need cost-effective, sustainable solutions. Sometimes investing in nature is the best way to solve complex problems.<br /> <br /> In the Caribbean, which has a total watershed area of 23MHa and tree cover up to measuring nine MHa in 2,000, the biggest risk to watersheds is fire, topping the scale at five. Erosion risk is next, ranked medium to high, at four, while historical forest loss and recent forest loss are both at medium level &mdash; three. <br /> <br /> Fire risk is measured by average annual fire occurrence per unit area in a watershed in the most recent past 10 years (January 1st, 2006 to December 31st, 2015).<br /> <br /> Recommended natural infrastructure strategies<br /> <br /> Risks scores of four or higher should be addressed by specific actions. Highlighted is the list of recommendations to mitigate high risks to this watershed.<br /> <br /> Risk: Erosion Strategy: Erosion Control<br /> <br /> &bull; Vegetation buffering: Planting or maintaining trees/ shrubs along the sides of roads and waterways to capture run-off and pollutants.<br /> <br /> &bull; Slope erosion reduction: Slowing the rate of erosion on steep sloped lands by creating various barriers to sediment movement. Examples include contour felling of trees, silt fences, and terracing.<br /> <br /> &bull; Agricultural best management practices: Reducing the amount of pesticides, fertilisers, animal waste, and other pollutants entering water resources, and conserving water supply. Examples include contour farming, cover crops, and terrace construction.<br /> <br /> Risk: Fire Strategy: Fire Management<br /> <br /> &bull; Forest fuel reduction: Reducing wildfire severity and related sediment and ash pollution through mechanical forest thinning and controlled burns.<br /> <br /> &bull; Alternative land clearing: Preventing fire from slash-and-burn by using alternative land-clearing and management solutions such as alley cropping.<br /> <br /> &mdash; World Resources Institute http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13253480/225705__w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, August 31, 2016 12:00 AM Saving the Parrotfish: An opportunity for science to guide policy http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Saving-the-Parrotfish--An-opportunity-for-science-to-guide-policy_67672 It is no secret that Jamaica has one of the most overexploited fisheries in the Caribbean &mdash; indeed in the world. In fact, it is not unusual at international scientific conferences to see Jamaica&rsquo;s fisheries and degraded coral reefs used as the example of a worst-case scenario when compared to other tropical countries. The fact is Jamaica has a long history of overfishing as far back as the 1970s.<br /> <br /> Our Parrotfish are getting smaller<br /> <br /> Why do we have this problem of overfishing and declining coral reef health? Well, as with most things it is a combination of factors. Poverty and high unemployment means that there are too many fishermen in the water catching too many fish. The Jamaican consumers&rsquo; high demand for Parrotfish means that they are targeted by fishers, in particular spear fishers, or caught in fish traps built with mesh with holes too small that restrict young fish from escaping, thus being able to continue growing.<br /> <br /> Another big issue is that Parrotfish actually &ldquo;sleep&rdquo; at night by making a cocoon out of mucus that disguises their scent from other fish. However, spear fishermen have been going diving at night using air compressor systems that allow them to stay underwater for a long time and shoot the fish while they are asleep. The result? As we have continued to take out too many of our reef grazers, namely Parrotfish, the fish have got smaller and smaller. The Jamaican palate has now got used to a Parrotfish that is less than 30cm (12 inches) long. What we have now come to expect is a fish that fits nicely in a Styrofoam container at Hellshire Beach or Alligator Pond.<br /> <br /> Parrotfish keep coral reefs healthy<br /> <br /> Most of the fish that we like to eat are associated with coral reefs. These include snapper, grunt, goatfish, butterfish (grouper), and, of course, Parrotfish. These fish live, eat and breed on coral reefs. Parrotfish, in particular, are herbivores, which means they nibble on the marine plants and algae that live on the reefs. When we take out too many of the fish that keep the algae under control, the living coral reef gets choked and smothered by too many plants.<br /> <br /> In addition to this, when we pollute our gullies and rivers with sewage and garbage, this eventually ends up in the sea and on the reef. Garbage smothers the reef, and the nutrients found in sewage have a similar effect to fertilisers, encouraging the growth of marine plants affecting the balance in the living parts of the coral reef. When the reef can&rsquo;t grow and provide suitable living conditions (habitat) for the fish, they do not produce enough baby fish to replenish the stocks. So when we remove Parrotfish from the coral ecosystem, there is a downward spiral of fish, and coral reef decline is the result.<br /> <br /> Science-based solutions<br /> <br /> So what are the solutions? The recent consumer-driven campaign led by some supermarkets and one hotel chain has the potential to reduce demand. The assumption being that lowered local demand will give the Parrotfish a chance to recover. There has also been a call for the Government to introduce an islandwide ban on the harvesting of Parrotfish. While this ban might have the intended effect of improving the population of fish, the Government has to exercise caution with this approach. Policies such as fisheries closures or moratoria have negative economic impacts and therefore require the use of sound science (biological, social and economic) to inform decisions. An outright ban will have significant negative social impacts to poor Jamaicans who depend on fishing. If measures are not put in place to provide alternative livelihoods and ensure adequate resources to enforce this ban, it is guaranteed to fail.<br /> <br /> There are copious amounts of international scientific research that already exist, along with examples of success stories, that can be used to provide solutions for Jamaica. Here are a few solutions that, if adopted, could lead to sustainable Parrotfish conservation:<br /> <br /> 1. Fish sanctuaries: There are a few special fisheries conservation areas already established across the island (Oracabessa, Portland Bight and Bluefields). Scientific evidence shows that when these no-fishing zones are created, there are positive impacts to the overall fish population. Juvenile fish are allowed to grow in these safe areas and adults can breed and produce more baby fish that replenish areas outside the protected areas.<br /> <br /> We need to increase the size of each of these conservation areas and implement a few more of these marine protected areas. This would help improve not only Parrotfish populations but also other species found in our waters. Coral reefs too will benefit.<br /> <br /> 2. Proper fisheries management: The Government needs to work with non-governmental organisations and law-enforcement agencies to properly enforce the regulations governing the fisheries sector.<br /> <br /> The current fines must be increased to levels that create disincentives to break the rules. Very importantly, the Government needs to take the painful decision to eliminate, or severely restrict, spear fishing. Patrols and enforcement must be increased to stop night-time spear shooting of Parrotfish. Other Caribbean jurisdictions have implemented this and have had positive results. Consider banning Parrotfish by spear gun, restricting spear fishing to pure recreational fishers, and enforcing bag limits (not more than a certain amount and size of fish per person).<br /> <br /> Finally, using small mesh sizes on fish pots should be eliminated. Mesh exchange programmes have been shown to work, and research shows that a mesh diameter of 1.5 inches to 2 inches allows juvenile fish to escape and grow to breeding sizes, thus increasing the overall population of Parrotfish. The Government needs to move post-haste to update and then pass the draft fisheries policy in Parliament.<br /> <br /> 3. Target other fish species: An idea that has been floating around for several years is the creation of a new type of fishery in order to give our coral reef fish a break. A Jamaican deepwater or pelagic fishery needs to be developed by the Government along with private sector. With the assistance of international partners and donors a sustainable fishery could be developed that targets species such as mackerel, tuna, dolphin fish (also known as mahi-mahi and not to be confused with porpoises) and marlin.<br /> <br /> It should be noted that this type of fishery is more expensive and will require larger sea-going vessels. However, the plan will include the provision of training and employment for Jamaican fishermen (and women) who were formerly dependent on catching Parrotfish for a living.<br /> <br /> Science should be used <br /> <br /> The current public campaign is a good start to raise awareness of the severity of the problem of Parrotfish overfishing and the impact to coral reefs. However, an immediate and outright government ban on Parrotfish will fail without financial and human resources to ensure enforcement and provide alternative livelihood strategies for impacted fishers. In addition, Parrotfish populations will continue to dwindle if we ignore the problems created by improper sewage and garbage disposal, too much construction too close to the shoreline (exceeding environmental carrying capacity), and the general economic malaise affecting Jamaica.<br /> <br /> It is very important also to note that fishermen love the independence of battling the elements and going to sea. Any alternative livelihood strategy that removes them from the marine environment is likely to fail. Instead, the Government (with private sector support) should explore alternative strategies that include creating new (pelagic) fisheries and re-exploring sustainable marine aquaculture opportunities, such as Irish moss, cage culture oysters, etc.<br /> <br /> Scientific information should be used to inform the process of updating any fisheries policy that is designed to conserve marine biodiversity while balancing the demands of the human population. We suggest here that any decision on Parrotfish harvest must be guided by sound science. Without this, it is impossible to make the trade-offs that will ultimately result in benefits to the entire Jamaican society.<br /> <br /> This article was authored by Peter E T Edwards, Karen McDonald-Gayle (president) and Orville Grey on behalf of the Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals (<br /> <br /> www.jiep.org<br /> <br /> ). The views expressed are the authors&rsquo; individual thoughts and do not represent any institution or entity with which they may be employed or affiliated.<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13121304/214434_w300.jpg Local Opinion Sunday, August 28, 2016 2:00 AM Coral nursery success http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Coral-nursery-success_71723 Three months ahead of the formal end of its quest to identify and grow resilient coral species with a view to restoring declining reefs around the island, The University of the West Indies (UWI) is declaring success.<br /> <br /> With financial backing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the university has, for the past two years, been testing five types of corals in underwater nurseries at sites off the St Ann and Portland coasts. They chose slower-growing palm and brain-like coral types as opposed to the faster-growing finger-like types. The intention was to select the strains that were not succumbing to &ldquo;adverse environmental conditions&rdquo; such as rising ocean temperatures or increasing algal growth as a result of increased pollution from land-based sources.<br /> <br /> Professor Mona Webber, head of the Centre for Marine Sciences (CMS), explained the rationale behind the selection.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If you keep propagating and the species you&rsquo;re propagating are just going to die, either because of climate change effects or because of the deleterious effects from riverine input, sewage input, and other anthropogenic stresses being thrown at them, then you&rsquo;re wasting time, you&rsquo;re wasting money,&rdquo; she said last week at a workshop in Discovery Bay.<br /> <br /> Further, Marcia Creary Ford and Dr Dayne Buddo, who were part of the research team, pointed out that at least 12 other projects around the island, which were carried out at different times, feature finger-like corals. But while they are good habitat creators, much like the lettuce-type, they don&rsquo;t provide as much shoreline protection as the boulder types do, they said. <br /> <br /> And that, the scientists say, is critical since data show that, between 1975 and 2013, there has been a shift from coral-dominated reefs to algal-dominated reefs.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We were trying to get away from what everybody else is doing and plug the gaps, because a reef is a very complex community and corals are very diverse,&rdquo; Dr Webber added.<br /> <br /> Billed Coral Lifeline, the two-day event aimed at revealing the outcomes of the programme to date. Among those are an identification of resilient strains of the selected coral types, and an 80 per cent survival rate among the head-started ones already put back on the reef.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The first success of this project is being able to identify resilient corals, corals that look like they are surviving despite all the pressures around them. And because we went for that, it augurs well for the future of whatever we do,&rdquo; the marine biologist told the Jamaica Observer when the formalities ended on day one. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The second is that we have successfully got these things to attach and grow on the nursery. It means that, if they grow on this artificial substrate, you put them back out on a reef in a natural setting, and there should be no problem. In fact, some of those that have been outplanted already are doing very well,&rdquo; she continued.<br /> <br /> For Dr Webber, having the corals attach and grow is a big deal, since, as she explained it, the selected types required more technique because of their dense structures. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve successfully done a good job with those more hardy species and those are the species that create the boulders and the real barriers and the protection for land. The finger-like types grow fast and create spaces for fish, but when you get rough weather, those are cleared first. In a hurricane you can lose 50 per cent of your finger-like corals,&rdquo; Dr Webber said.<br /> <br /> To set up the nurseries, the scientists started with 60 fragments of coral, four each from three donor colonies of five species &mdash; Acropora palmata, Orbicella annularis, Orbicella faveolata, Agaricia agaricites, and Siderastrea siderea. They were attached to cement bases and installed on coral tree nurseries suspended on a fore reef in Discovery Bay. They were monitored and measured monthly. <br /> <br /> Prior to the IDB reef restoration programme, which was also implemented in Placencia, Belize, the university&rsquo;s marine labs at Discovery Bay, St Ann; Alligator Head, Portland; and Port Royal, Kingston, have done similar work, albeit on much smaller scales. When the IDB funds dry up, they will continue those works but with the advantage this time round of exposure to current technologies.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We do this type of thing all the time, but we do it on a smaller scale and with limited technology. This project has given us a chance to leap ahead with the technology. It has allowed us to partner with Mote [Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Florida], which has a coral genetics lab. It has given us the money to do a little more in-depth study into the technologies.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We will continue and will apply some of these lessons (in our work) to make our efforts better,&rdquo; said the CMS head.<br /> <br /> One particular direction in which the university intends to take the research is to achieve succcessful spawning and fertilisation.<br /> <br /> The IDB programme in both Jamaica and Belize was financed to the tune of US$665,000. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13237439/224206__w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, August 24, 2016 12:00 AM Belize cashes in excess rainfall insurance http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Belize-cashes-in-excess-rainfall-insurance-_71707 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands &mdash; CCRIF SPC (formerly the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility) paid US$261,073 to the Government of Belize under its excess rainfall insurance policy last Thursday, two weeks after heavy rains brought by Hurricane Earl drenched the country on August 4 and 5.<br /> <br /> The payout, CCRIF said, demonstrates its commitment to act within two weeks after a qualifying hazard event.<br /> <br /> Earl caused widespread flooding, damage to homes and businesses, interruptions of water and electricity services, and losses to the tourism and agriculture industries across Central America.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The CCRIF board and team are relieved that there was no loss of life &ndash; and we hope that the funds received from CCRIF will be useful to the Government of Belize in their recovery efforts. We wish the Government and people of Belize a rapid recovery,&rdquo; CEO Isaac Anthony stated.<br /> <br /> Belize has both an excess rainfall policy and a tropical cyclone policy with CCRIF.<br /> <br /> It purchased the former for the first time for the 2016/17 policy year, which began on June 1. The modelled &ldquo;Rainfall Index Loss&rdquo; determined from the level of Hurricane Earl&rsquo;s rainfall was greater than the attachment point (the deductible) on the country&rsquo;s excess rainfall policy and therefore the policy was triggered, CCRIF explained. <br /> <br /> The tropical cyclone or hurricane policy, meanwhile, is based on modelled losses due to wind and storm surge. Those losses were below the policy attachment point as selected by the Government and therefore that particular policy was not triggered, the insurance said. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;CCRIF&rsquo;s parametric insurance policies are insurance contracts that make payments based on the intensity of an event (for example, amount of rainfall) and the amount of loss calculated in a pre-agreed model caused by the event. Therefore, payouts can be made very quickly after a hazard event. This is different from traditional insurance settlements that require an on-the-ground assessment of individual losses after an event before a payment can be made,&rdquo; CCRIF said in a release to the media.<br /> <br /> For the policy year 2016/17, CCRIF sold 15 tropical cyclone policies, 11 excess rainfall policies and 13 earthquake policies to its 17 members in the Caribbean and Central America. CCRIF has been providing tropical cyclone and earthquake coverage since 2007 and first introduced its excess rainfall policy in 2013. In 2017, CCRIF expects to bring to market a new policy for drought.<br /> <br /> CCRIF limits the financial impact of catastrophic hurricanes, earthquakes and excess rainfall events to Caribbean and &ndash; since 2015 &ndash; Central American governments by providing short-term liquidity when a parametric insurance policy is triggered. It is the world&rsquo;s first regional fund utilising parametric insurance, giving member governments the unique opportunity to purchase earthquake, hurricane and excess rainfall catastrophe coverage with lowest-possible pricing.<br /> <br /> CCRIF was developed under the technical leadership of the World Bank and with a grant from the Government of Japan. It was capitalised through contributions to a Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) by the Government of Canada, the European Union, the World Bank, the governments of the UK and France, the Caribbean Development Bank and the governments of Ireland and Bermuda, as well as through membership fees paid by participating governments. The Central America SP is capitalised by contributions to a special MDTF by the World Bank, European Commission and the governments of Canada and the United States.<br /> <br /> Since the inception of CCRIF in 2007, the facility has made 15 payouts totalling approximately US$38.8 million to 10 member governments. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13237321/224175_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, August 24, 2016 12:00 AM Climate Change strategy critical to poverty reduction &mdash; IDB http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Climate-Change-strategy-critical-to-poverty-reduction---IDB_70971 DISCOVERY BAY, St Ann &mdash; For the past two-and-a-half years, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has spent upwards of US$660,000 growing coral in two locations in Jamaica and one site in Belize.<br /> <br /> If you&rsquo;re like most people, you&rsquo;re wondering why a development bank, with the broad objectives of helping its members reduce poverty and grow their economies, is concerned with coral.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think it odd at all that the bank is doing this. I think the bank should be doing more things like this. In fact, if you look at the direction in which the bank is going now, you&rsquo;ll see that the bank will be doing more and more things like this,&rdquo; says IDB Environmental Principal Specialist, Climate Change and Sustainability Development Sector Graham Watkins.<br /> <br /> &lsquo;This&rsquo; is in reference to the Coral Reef Restoration Program, in which scientists from the The University of the West Indies&rsquo; Centre for Marine Sciences and its Discovery Bay Marine Lab have been studying various coral species to determine their resilience to climatic variation and change, including sea level rise and increased ocean/sea temperatures. They propagate the corals in nurseries and will transplant them once they are big enough in hopes of replenishing the island&rsquo;s declining coral stock over time. Work under the programme started in June 2014 and will end in November. Similar work was carried out in Placencia, Belize, through collaboration with Fragments of Hope.<br /> <br /> Speaking yesterday at a workshop to discuss the results and outcomes of the programme at the Discovery Bay Marine Lab, Watkins explained that the programme was a natural fit for the IDB as it reflects a shift in the organisation&rsquo;s policy.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The bank recently updated its 2010-2020 strategy. It updated it mid-term, which is interesting because one of the major changes that they&rsquo;ve made&hellip;they didn&rsquo;t change the objectives &ndash; poverty reduction and economic growth still sit as the main objectives of the bank &ndash; but what they&rsquo;ve done is they&rsquo;ve made climate change and environmental sustainability institutions as completely cross-cutting. They made a clear statement that the IDB, yes, will chase those original historical goals, but it will incorporate those (climate change and environment) across the bank,&rdquo; the environment specialist said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It is quite a fundamental change in the direction of bank,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> Watkins explained that in his six years at the IDB, he has seen climate change grow from an initiative, which he defined as little more than a one-off project to throw money at, to a division, and as of this year, a full-fledged department.<br /> <br /> Previous to that development, he said, the bank had drafted a biodiversity plan because it believes that its core objectives cannot be divorced from sustainable use of natural resources.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If you look at biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean, you&rsquo;ll see that [it&rsquo;s] one of the major sources of dependence for very poor people, whether you&rsquo;re talking about coral reefs or whether you&rsquo;re talking about rainforests. So, if you really want to meet those goals of poverty reduction, you&rsquo;re going to have to deal with those issues.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;If you look at the Caribbean and you&rsquo;re going to talk about economic growth, you&rsquo;re going to have to look at tourism and tourism depends on those resources, so the links are quite obvious when you think about it,&rdquo; the IDB representative continued.<br /> <br /> The directional shift towards environmental concerns, he said, had much to do with the Paris Agreement signed last December, and the Sustainable Development Goals to which UN member countries agreed upon earlier in 2015.<br /> <br /> Watkins argued that while it may be &ldquo;easier said than done&rdquo; convincing politicians and other decision makers to drive the change, it is the way of the future. Strengthening the point, he pointed to an op-ed in the Guardian, written by IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno and professor of economics and government at the London School of Economics Nicolas Stern, which, in a nod to the emerging green infrastructure movement, advocated for a merger of the climate change and infrastructure development agendas.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The idea is to bring those two things together because they are critical for economic growth and poverty reduction,&rdquo; said Watkins.<br /> <br /> The two-day workshop is called &lsquo;Coral Lifeline&rsquo; and will include site visits to the underwater coral nurseries today.<br /> <br />  <br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13221277/222844__w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, August 17, 2016 12:00 AM Senior citizens install solar water heater http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Senior-citizens-install-solar-water-heater_68554 The Rolph Grant Senior Citizens&rsquo; Home has seen its electricity bills fall by more than 40 per cent as a result of its energy conservation programme bolstered by the installation of a solar water heater system partially funded by a $500,000 contribution from the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ).<br /> <br /> The Home, which previously had electricity bills as high as $52,000 per month, is a self-supporting outreach initiative of the Webster Memorial United Church in Kingston. The facility was established 27 years ago as a retirement home for church members whose spouses had died or who lived alone, and has since evolved into a nursing home which currently has 29 residents ranging from 64 to 100 years old.<br /> <br /> In an effort to reduce their electricity bills the Home&rsquo;s Management Committee began a conservation programme which included switching off lights, unplugging appliances and installing LED bulbs. The committee also undertook a fund-raising drive to purchase a renewable energy solution and approached the PCJ for assistance.<br /> <br /> That committee used the funds to procure an 80-gallon solar water heater at a cost of more than $1 million.<br /> <br /> At the handover ceremony at the home on Tuesday, June 26, chairman of the committee, Claudette Stephen expressed thanks to the PCJ for their support.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We want to wholeheartedly thank the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica for its very generous donation of $500,000 towards this project, without which we would not have been able to install a solar water heater system at this time,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> In response, the PCJ&rsquo;s Group Chief Financial Officer Robert Clarke said, &ldquo;The PCJ is pleased to lend support for this energy efficiency intervention at the senior citizens&rsquo; home, which is in keeping with our drive to increase the use of energy efficient technology to reduce electricity costs. We hope that this solar water heater system will lower the home&rsquo;s energy bills and help to maintain the high standard of care that the staff provides for the residents.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13220990/221449_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, August 17, 2016 12:00 AM Markets, infirmaries to use Zero Energy Building technologies http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/Markets--infirmaries-to-use-Zero-Energy-Building-technologies_70820 Government has plans to use Zero Energy Building (ZEB) technology in the construction of markets and infirmaries in the island, according to Minister of Local Government & Community Development Desmond McKenzie <br /> <br /> McKenzie referencing the work being done to establish a Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, the minister said that the ministry &ldquo;is taking active steps to reduce costs by using energy conservation technologies&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> He was speaking during a courtesy call paid by a team from UWI led by Prof Anthony Clayton, Professor of Caribbean Sustainable Development, Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), UWI. The purpose of the visit was to present an update on the construction.<br /> <br /> UWI&rsquo;s NZEB is designed as a prototype for the region under a project being implemented by the ISD with financial support from the Global Environment Facility and technical assistance from the United Nations Environment Programme.<br /> <br /> Minister McKenzie said that while there is a general need across the island for retrofitting of buildings to achieve greater energy efficiency, those who have already put such systems in place are seeing significant reductions in their utility bills.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> He therefore urged Prof Clayton and his team to expand their public education programme on NZEB as a means of promoting energy conservation technologies across stakeholder groups islandwide, including the parish councils.<br /> <br /> The minister said that ZEB as well as state-of-the-art rainwater harvesting and related technologies will be used in the construction of several new markets and infirmaries and public buildings in the pipeline, and that several audits conducted by his ministry was informing new construction and refurbishing programmes.<br /> <br /> Prof Clayton, noting that many of the buildings in Jamaica today &ldquo;are the legacy of an era when energy was cheap&rdquo; said that architects and engineers in Jamaica should now be focused on building energy efficient buildings&rdquo;.<br /> <br /> He noted that the UWI NZEB project includes a component which will see the retrofitting of the National Housing Trust headquarters in Kingston, its car park and the adjoining Emancipation Park, in line with NZEB guidelines. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13220991/222590_w300.jpg Local Environment Wednesday, August 17, 2016 12:00 AM RADA makes fresh move to push cassava pancake mix http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/environment/RADA-makes-fresh-move-to-push-cassava-pancake-mix_70289 The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) has joined a growing list of entities using cassava to produce by-products for consumers.<br /> <br /> But according to the senior director of RADA&rsquo;s Social Services and Home Economics Unit, Beverly Darby-Collins, the product &ndash; Cassava Pancake Mix &ndash; is not really new.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We actually developed this [pancake mix] from 2000,&rdquo; Barby-Collins told the Jamaica Observer at the Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show held earlier this month at Denbigh, Clarendon.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We had a little bit of a snag in that, because of the constant intervention of drought, we had a problem with cassava a couple of times, and [the pancake mix] dropped off the shelves,&rdquo; Darby-Collins said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Reception has been good over the years, but it&rsquo;s just that we have not hit the market with it as we would have liked,&rdquo; she added.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We had a lot of farmers growing cassava, so we had to develop a value-added process to be able to take off some for them. We started out with just a pan-fried bread and we worked further and developed the pancake mix,&rdquo; Darby-Collins explained.<br /> <br /> RADA, she said, has been talking with farmers and has been successful in getting them to grow more cassava.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;So we are trying to get the products back in, and in order to compete with the great Aunt Jemima, we had to box it. We had it in a pouch, but we had to go a little further with it, so we have them boxed now so we can get them out,&rdquo; she told the<br /> <br /> Observer.&rsquo;<br /> <br /> Darby-Collins stated that the pancake mix can be found in some supermarkets as well as at the Agrimart located on Old Hope Road as well as at the Mandeville RADA office and RADA St James&rsquo; Agrimart. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The idea is to get people to know about the product because we are not a pancake-eating society, we are a bread and fry dumpling and festival society, so we have to try promote it, like we are doing at Denbigh, to get people to develop the taste for it so we can get them to purchase it,&rdquo; Darby-Collins stated.<br /> <br /> The products are manufactured at the RADA-operated Twickenham Bammies Industries located at Farmers Training Centre, Twickenham Park, Spanish Town. <br /> <br /> The authority, she added, was also trying to improve the quality of the bammies it produces, and has added mini bammies.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We also do cassava flour&hellip; and we also develop the pancake syrup from natural fruits such as otaheite apple, mango, and guava. We also use sorrel to do the syrup as well. We use our local fruits because all we are doing here is encouraging Jamaicans to eat Jamaican, eat what we grow and grow what we eat,&rdquo; Darby-Collins stated.<br /> <br /> She said that the production of the cassava by-products will help to reduce the island&rsquo;s import bill and get more people employed.<br /> <br /> &ndash; Javene Skyers http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13218587/221776__w300.jpg Local Environment Tuesday, August 16, 2016 12:00 AM