January 13, 2014
Eight of Jamaica's protected areas are to receive new or updated Management and Business Plans under a project being implemented by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
The areas are the: Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, Discovery Bay Fish Sanctuary, Clydesdale Forest Reserve, Gourie Forest Reserve, Mason River Protected Area, Pedro Bank and Cays, Palisadoes-Port Royal Protected Area and Seville Heritage Park.
The project, titled Strengthening the Operational and Financial Sustainability of the National Protected Area System (NPAS), is also seeking to have the Black River Morass and Pedro Bank and Cays declared as protected areas. The six-year project ends in 2016 and is supported by the Global Environment Facility, United Nations Development Programme, KFW Bank (based in Germany), The Nature Conservancy and the Government of Jamaica. It is being executed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica. Some of the major stakeholders include the: Forestry Department, Jamaica National Heritage Trust, Fisheries Division, Institute of Jamaica and Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust. The management plans will seek to support the effective management of these areas.
Ngozi Christian, Project Manager of NPAS said the business plans are aimed at, among other things, helping the entities responsible for the protected areas to identify projects that can generate revenue for them to become self-sufficient.
In addition, the Project will establish a Protected Areas Trust Fund, develop a user fee framework for protected areas and formulate a legislative framework. She made the disclosure at the 8th Annual Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management held recently in Montego Bay. The event was hosted by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
The Project mounted an exhibition at the five-day event. The display highlighted Jamaica's protected areas, particularly, their role in protecting biodiversity.
Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of CDEMA said he was pleased with the project's involvement in the event, adding that the display emphasized the connection between good development planning and resilience against natural hazards.
“Preservation and maintenance of the natural environment are critical precursors to being resilient against the face of natural hazards. Without investment in development planning and environmental goods and services, we will always be ravaged by natural disasters once they impact us,” Jackson said.