New act to deal with private lands selected as protected sitesFriday, June 18, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Government intends to develop a policy and strategies to address situations where lands that are privately held are selected to be protected sites under the impending new Protected Areas Act.
The new Protected Areas Act will enable the creation and regulation of a National Protected Areas System (NPAS) representative of the country's biological and cultural heritage.
The disclosure was first made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during his contribution to the 2021/2022 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on March 18.
Speaking during the #MyTreeLegacy Tree Planting Ceremony which took place at St Catherine High School today, Holness said there are several ways in which the Government would address private lands.
“We could give several incentives for owners to develop the land in accordance with the protected area. We could have partnerships with them, where we try to develop the land in keeping with the protected status of the land or we could acquire the land, depending on the nature of the protection and how we consider this as a valuable piece of land to protect,” Holness said.
“In my budget debate, I stated that the Government will be promulgating a new Protected Areas Act. This will enable the creation and regulation of a national protected areas system. This national protected areas system is representative of Jamaica's biological and cultural heritage,” he continued.
The National Environment and Planning Agency in consultation with partner agencies, has, so far, selected 15 areas that are proposed for protection.
“Some of these lands are under private ownership, while others are owned by various arms of the Government,” the prime minister explained.
“The law as it now stands does not make any distinction as it relates to protection of lands, whether they are privately owned or publicly held, so once an area is defined as protected, if you own it, then the rules that apply to the protection of that land applies to the land that you own,” he added.
Holness said the Government has found many privately held lands to be environmental assets or cultural and heritage assets, but said they are designated as protected and cannot be used, which creates a conflict because private owners want to use their lands.
“We have to find ways to ensure that we are not only passing the law but we actually have ownership of the lands that are cleared as protected but privately held,” he said.
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