A forest management plan to ensure the conservation and protection of the Stephney-John’s Vale Forest Reserve, in St. Ann and Clarendon, is to be completed in March. This was announced by Marilyn Headley, CEO & Conservator of Forests who was speaking on behalf of Honourable Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change who was unavoidably absent. She was speaking at the launch of the Stephney, Hessen Castle and Grants Mountain Local Forest Management Committees (LFMCs) at the Hessen Castle True Church of God Apostolic.
“I understand that a Forest Management Plan is also being developed for the Stephney–John’s Vale forest reserve under a project titled ‘Strengthening the operational and Financial Sustainability of the National Protected Area System’. The plan should be completed by March 2014,” she said.
Miss Headley also officially launched the LFMCs for the Minister.
Mention was also made of the Jamaica Rural Economy & Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) Reforestation initiative, which is now being implemented in the forest reserve. Under the project, 200 hectares of lands will be reforested in the Stephney-John’s Vale forest reserve, as well as the development of alternative livelihood and agro forestry activities.
Miss Headley in delivering the Minister’s Speech also charged the residents to take care of the forests in their community. “Sustainable use of our forests does not include the rampant chopping of trees. The laws and regulations regarding our forests must be enforced and obeyed. As members of the Hessen Castle, Grants Mountain and Stephney LFMCs, how you conduct your operations will also benefit the overall watershed protection and management,” she said.
The establishment of Local Forest Management Committees (LFMCs) is one of the Forestry Department’s key strategies to effectively and sustainably manage the country’s forest resources. The formation of these three LFMCs will bring to eighteen (18) the number of such committees operating across the island. The Local Forest Management Committee (LFMC) is the institutional body created to enable the participation of the communities in the co-management of forested areas.