Jamaica's push to become an efficient player in the Green Economy is set to receive a major boost through a €850,000 (J$128 million) European Union-funded technical assistance to the Forestry Department.
The technical assistance is providing support to develop a suitable business model for the Forestry Department which will assist it in achieving increased levels of operational efficiency, as well as identifying new and emerging business opportunities for the organisation. This will contribute positively to the Agency's thrust to expand the portfolio of goods and services from which it derives revenue and will provide information to support business-related discussions on Jamaica's forest sector generally.
The business model will outline costing models, marketing strategies for traditional and non-traditional goods and services offered by the Forestry Department, as well as the integration of online services, e-commerce processes and application models within the existing operational framework of the Agency. It will also include some of the more readily appreciable income generating opportunities offered by Jamaica's forests, namely ecotourism, with specific attention being given to the recreational facility managed by the Agency in the Gourie Forest Management Area which has significant potential in the local and global sustainable tourism market. Special attention will also be dedicated to the management of nurseries producing tropical forest species and the implementation of an e-commerce platform to facilitate ease of carrying out business with the Forestry Department.
The assistance falls under the Budget Support for Improved Forest Management for Jamaica (IFMJ) Project between the Delegation of the European Union and the Jamaican Government.
The three-year project kicked off earlier this month at a meeting held at the Forestry Department's head office in St. Andrew attended by representatives of the European Union Delegation, the Forestry Department and the project consultants. The acting CEO of the Forestry Department Ms. Rainee Oliphant said, “The ultimate aim is to have a business model developed for the Agency that first and foremost meets our needs as the technical repository of information on forests in Jamaica. The model will, once implemented, enhance the operational efficiencies and expand revenue generation opportunities”. Ms. Oliphant also pointed out that the business model will facilitate the provision of a higher standard of service to Forestry Department internal and external customers through the development of a user-friendly e-commerce platform.
Attaché/Programmes Manager, Delegation of the European Union in Jamaica, Mr. Stefano Cilli, underscored the fact that technical assistance within the framework of the Budget Support programme will offer innovative and diversified products, ecoservices and services to the citizens of Jamaica”.
The Forestry Department is the Agency responsible for the management and conservation of Jamaica's state-owned forests to enhance social and economic development and contribute to building Jamaica's climate resilience.
Over 85,000 seedlings have been distributed and 57 hectares planted in forest estates across the island under the Government of Jamaica's 'Three Million Trees in Three Years' National Tree Planting Programme since its launch on October 4, 2019.
The Programme, which was launched by the Most Honourable Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, is aimed at supporting national reforestation efforts through the planting of three million trees island wide over three years as well as the engagement of environmentally focused Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) interns. Miss Rainee Oliphant, Acting CEO& Conservator of Forests at the Forestry Department describes the level of interest in the programme to date as significant. “There is still ample opportunity for each and every Jamaican to get involved in the initiative as we are targeting engagement from the individual level to medium and large-scale planting supported by entities in the public, private and non-governmental sectors”.
“Under the initiative, private and public sector entities have engaged in a positive way with the Agency to contribute in a meaningful way to this programme. GraceKennedy Limited has pledged to plant 2,000 trees, Wisynco Group Limited 12,000 and Noranda Bauxite has committed to plant 100,000 trees initially with plans to increase to 300,000. The Jamaica 4-H Clubs has also made a pledge and other companies are currently discussing what their roles will be in the initiative,” she said.
The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has also announced that it will be facilitating the planting of 500,000 trees over two years in support of the initiative. “It is a very exciting time not just for the Forestry Department, but Jamaica as a whole,” Miss Oliphant added.
Several preparatory activities have commenced to meet the demands of the initiative one of which is the production of seedlings required to meet the three million tree target.
The Agency has increased the number of staff with responsibility for seed collection and field officers are being trained to assist with this component. The seeds collected will be used to germinate seedlings for planting under the programme. The staff capacity within the Agency's nurseries has also been increased and additional equipment is being utilized in the production process to ensure that adequate seedlings are available to support the initiative. “The Agency is also in dialogue with private nurseries with a view of working with them to assist with the production of seedlings,” Miss Oliphant added.
The initiative, which is being led by the Forestry Department, will see the planting of two million timber/forest seedlings on approximately 3000 hectares of land while the remaining one million timber and ornamental seedlings will be distributed to the public and planted in urban spaces including roadways, parks and along major thoroughfares in towns across the island.
Under the programme, approximately 1,000 HOPE interns will be trained and certified in basic core elements of forest management which includes seedling production, tree establishment & maintenance and forest law. In addition to the HOPE interns that will benefit under the project, employment opportunities will be provided for persons from communities adjacent to areas to be planted.
The Dolphin Head Local Forest Management Committee continues to make strides in protecting our local environment while showcasing the ingenuity of community members in generating income within the Kingsvale community.
The LFMC continues to prove that at the heart of rural development, is the endless possibility for community members to benefit from sustainable development initiatives, which are community centered, driven and managed.
Recently the Committee undertook the construction of a wooden cabin which is a welcomed addition to its community ecotourism offerings for locals and foreigners. The construction was funded by LFMC members who pooled their salaries to buy building material and to hire a contractor for the project. The work has been aided by members of the LFMC and the Forestry Department's western team.
The team recently finished a concrete pavement at the bottom of the stairs leading to the cabin and work continues to finish up a bar area which is at the base of the cabin. Work is also being done to clean up the area around the cabin.
The cabin is expected to be opened to the public by mid to late 2020. In building this cabin, the Committee has been seeking to increase its impact in the community by expanding the livelihood opportunities available to community members through the creation of jobs from the provision of massage services and the production and sale of homemade oils for the massage therapy.