Environment Minister Calls for More Sustainable use of the Country’s Forest Resources

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Robert Pickersgill.

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Robert Pickersgill is calling for a more sustainable use of the country’s forest resources. He says Jamaica’s forest resources have been negatively affected by the activities of individuals and corporations. These activities, he says, include mining and quarrying for ore, housing and other forms of development, as well as agriculture.

In a message delivered by Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Lieutenant Colonel Oral Khan, at the official national tree day planting ceremony and project at the St. Andrew Technical High School, Friday, October 2, he said the unregulated cutting of trees for these activities can lead to widespread soil erosion, siltation of rivers, and result in less water entering and recharging the aquifers.   

“Don’t get me wrong; development when done in a sustainable manner is good.  We need to house our people, provide them with jobs and give them the necessary infrastructure to make their lives more comfortable.  But development at the expense of the natural environment benefits no one.” 

Minister Pickersgill says the challenge of achieving a balance between economic development and environmental preservation has led to the current situation, where only 40 per cent of the island is covered with forests. 

Meanwhile, the Minister is calling on Jamaicans to become more aware of how their actions can impact the health of the environment, trees and forests. He says this is critical if the country is to achieve a healthy natural environment, which is goal number four of Vision2030 Jamaica. 

Minister Pickersgill says Jamaicans must start seeing themselves as stakeholders in the future they want for their country. “Some of us may not even be around to see the results of our actions, as the trees that we plant today will take years to grow to full size. However, no matter our age and our circumstances, we have to consider what kind of country, and indeed, what kind of world we want to leave behind for future generations,” he said.

The Minister has commended the work of the Forestry Department and the work it has been doing in educating the public about the vital roles that trees play and he is urging  Jamaicans to partner with the Agency to take care of the trees and forests so that they in turn, can take care of us.

“Whether we are from government, the private sector, NGO’s, educational institutions, community groups,  whether you live in the cities or the rural areas, we are all Jamaicans and we owe it to ourselves and to our children to be stewards of the natural resources with which we have been blessed,” he said.

Meanwhile, CEO and Conservator of Forests, Ms. Marilyn Headley, has hailed the 13th staging of National Tree Planting Day a success. The Agency planted just over one hundred (100) seedlings at four ceremonies held across the island. The seedlings were planted at the St. Andrew Technical High School in Kingston; Hague Primary and Infant School, Trelawny; May Day High School; Manchester; and Annotto Bay High school in St. Mary.

The Agency also partnered with FLOW to plant seedlings at the Shortwood Practising Primary and Junior High School.

Ms. Headley says the tree planting exercises were well received by the schools. She says the Agency is grateful for the continued support and is looking forward for even more partnerships for next year’s tree planting exercise.

The 13th staging of National Tree Planting Day was held under the theme, “Plant a Tree, Reduce Carbon Dioxide.”