The Forestry Department is leading the region in the production of the most diverse assortment of forest species utilizing shade house technology.
Senior Research Officer at the Forestry Department, Brahim Diop, says this is a ground breaking move as shade house technology is normally used for the production of flowers, annuals and vegetables and is not being used anywhere else in the region to grow forest seedlings. With the technology, the Agency is currently able to produce over forty (40) forests, ornamental and fruit tree species.
The move was facilitated through funding and training under the EU/UNEP/GOJ Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project which was completed in 2014.
Mr. Diop noted that the design of the shade house makes the task of caring for the seedlings less laborious, “it allows seedlings to get the right amount of ambient sunlight to aid in photosynthesis and we also have a fertigation system, which is an irrigation system that allows for the injection of fertilizers, soil amendments, and other water-soluble products and it feeds the seedlings with water conditioned at the correct pH level for optimal growth,” he said.
He added that since the implementation over a year ago, the Agency has been reaping a number of benefits; among them is an increase in the survival of seedlings as the shade house allows for better control over pests that normally affect their survival rate.
“What we’re seeing is a tremendous increase in the number of seedlings that have been surviving compared to when we weren’t using the shade house system and based on feedback from persons who purchase these seedlings, they are easier to transport and transplant and, like I said earlier, the seedlings have been thriving because of their well-developed root (plug) systems,” he said.
With the use of the shade house technology, the Agency believes it is better poised to achieve its goal of ‘managing and conserving the forest resources of Jamaica for the benefit of present and future generations’.