The Forestry Department officially launched into operation its newly installed 15,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system (RWH) at a commissioning ceremony held at its head office this morning.
Senator the Honourable Matthew Samuda, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, who commissioned the RWH and the upgraded irrigation systems at the Forestry Department’s Mount Airy Nursery, commended the Forestry Department on the initiative, stating that the Agency “has made itself largely — not totally— independent of the NWC”. In addition, he charged the Agency to reinforce its importance as a major partner in building Jamaica’s climate resilience. “Forestry is, in many ways, the first line of defence. Forestry has to deliver day in, day out with the understanding that it is the first line of defence”, he said.
Mr. Ainsley Henry, CEO & Conservator of Forests, who gave remarks at the ceremony, also said this was a significant moment for the Forestry Department. “We are on a drive to improve efficiency not just because it’s the right thing to do, not just because, as environmental stewards, it is necessary, but also importantly because it makes dollars and sense. Our annual utility costs are not insignificant and hence, our savings will be profound,” he said.
He also noted that the Agency is, “committed to the mantra of environmental sustainability and so we are very deliberate in identifying strategies to reduce costs both in terms of dollars and environmental impact. The systems being commissioned today are examples of our deliberate integration of this mantra and its guiding principles into our operations.”
The rainwater harvesting system has resulted in the establishment of a 15,250-gallon storage network installed by Instant Save Conservation Solutions Limited. The system, which is comprised of roof gutters, storage tanks, a filtration mechanism and a distribution network, will supply the water-demanding operations of the Agency’s Head Office nursery in corporate St. Andrew and support other domestic services across the premises. The RWH system will reduce the Agency’s dependency on potable water supplied by the National Water Commission (NWC); save significantly on its utility bill and contribute to the production of higher-quality seedlings. The $9.1 million system is expected to yield a return on investment within three to four years.
At the Mount Airy Nursery in west rural St. Andrew, a modernized sprinkler system has replaced a 50-year-old underground structure. The new irrigation system employs modular controls that regulate the watering of the seedling beds in an efficient manner to conserve water. Mr. Jerome Smith, Principal Director of Forest Operations, disclosed that the current configuration is “a modern above-ground system that allows for zonal watering and leak detection” and “replaces a structure that was inefficient, corroded and suffered extensive leaks”.
The Head Office and Mount Airy nurseries are only the beginning of the Agency’s movement towards water security and efficiency. Mr. Henry has committed “to install modern systems across the entire nursery network to continue to increase production capacity and reduce operational costs”.
The extensive RWH system and state-of-the-art irrigation system will increase water storage capacity, reduce water wastage and enhance the production of high-quality seedlings. Together, these benefits support a sustainable environment in which the Agency actively contributes to water security through the application of innovative technologies.
Senator the Honourable Matthew Samuda, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Member of Parliament for West Rural St. Andrew and Ainsley Henry, CEO & Conservator of Forests at the at the Forestry Department's head office on August 29, 2023. Also present are