A reforestation initiative funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the Stephney-John’s Vale forest reserve is to be undertaken in the next few months.
The project titled Jamaica Rural Economy & Eco Systems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) Reforestation initiative which is being implemented by ACDI/VOCA was launched at a ceremony at the Hessen Castle True Church of God Apostolic on Wednesday, March 26.
Miss Jeanette Vail, Supervisory Program Officer, USAID, Jamaica who officially launched the project indicated that the project was valued at close to US$400,000 (JM $40 million) will be implemented by the Forestry Department and should be completed in June.
“The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the ACDI/VOCA-implemented Ja REEACH Project, and the Forestry Department aims to enhance biodiversity conservation and reforest 200 hectares of the Stephney-John’s Vale Forest Reserve. This initiative will also develop livelihood and agro-forestry programs to support the communities that depend on the forest,” she said.
She also noted that the project forms part of the USAIDs climate change strategy which has programmes targeting youth, farmers and communities. “This grant to the Forestry Department is part of USAID’s overall support for climate change and disaster risk reduction efforts by the Government of Jamaica and community partners such as the local forest management committees being launched today,” she said.
The project seeks to reforest 200 hectares of lands within Rio Bueno Watershed, specifically the Stephney-John’s Vale Forest Reserve and also to provide alternative livelihoods for residents who live off the forests reserve. Activities to be undertaken include the development of six agroforestry demonstration plots; the training of 200 farmers in agro forestry practices and holding of community workshops.
The Stephney-John’s Vale forest reserve is one of the largest forest reserves in Jamaica covering 6,675 hectares, and stretching across St. Ann and Clarendon.