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The Acting CEO & Conservator of Forests, Ms. Rainee Oliphant says the Forestry Department is on track to achieve all the targets under the European Union funded Budget Support Programme for the forest sector.

“For this financial year, most of activities under the programme have registered significant progress. We have completed Drafting Instructions for the amendment of the Forest Act and Forest Regulations and submitted them to the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation” Ms. Oliphant noted.

She also shared that the Cabinet Submission to support the revision of the Forest Act is being completed by the Ministry.

“To date, we have awarded over $ 133 million to support the development of 27 sustainable alternate livelihood projects in forest-dependent communities. These projects are now in the early stages of development and twenty-five additional projects are being evaluated for funding,” Ms. Oliphant said.

Ms. Oliphant also noted that the Agency has been building its capacity and has been working to develop an appropriate methodology for measuring carbon sequestration in Jamaica’s forests to enable the Agency to calculate the tonnes of carbon stored by the island's forests.

She has expressed gratitude to the European Union for its generous support to the forest sector which she says, “has better positioned the Forestry Department to build a vibrant, sustainable and climate-resilient sector”.

Ms. Oliphant was speaking at the launch of the visibility component for the programme, titled, ‘Addressing Environmental and Climate Change Challenges through Improved Forest Management’ at Hope Garden on March 9. The programme has been supporting the implementation of the Forest Policy for Jamaica, 2017 as well as several key components of the National Forest Management and Conservation Plan (NFMCP), 2016-2026, which is the 10-year plan for the forest sector.

Meanwhile, speaking at the launch, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean at the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, Mrs. Jolita Butkeviciene commended the Government of Jamaica for its commitment in preserving the “beautiful island of Jamaica for future generations” through its Nationally Determined Contributions of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 7.8% each year by 2030, as well as its pledge to plant three million trees over the next three years.

“The EU will stand always committed to support the efforts in relation to climate change. From the current allocation, we have spent $15 million toward the protection of our forests. In the future, I can guarantee that for all the funds that people put on the table, at least 20 percent will be towards climate change which would focus on forests or any additional areas to which the Jamaican government is committed”, Mrs. Butkeviciene said.

The Media Campaign Launch saw the unveiling of a promotional video and jingle that will aid in raising awareness about the project as well as Jamaica's forest resources.

Among the officials and guests attending the launch were Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska and Spain’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Josep Maria Bosch Bessa.

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