Over 200 persons including members of the deaf community in Jamaica as well as small farmers, rural women, and elderly artisans are set to benefit under the European Union-funded Improved Forest Management and Livelihoods for a better Jamaica (IFMAL) project which is being implemented by RISE Life Management Services in collaboration with the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf with support from the Forestry Department.
The IFMAL project which was launched on International Day of Forests, Monday, March 21, 2022 is being funded to a tune of J$50 million (300,000 Euros) from the European Union Delegation in Jamaica and will see the rollout of several activities to boost the livelihoods of persons, improve sustainable forest management and help to mitigate against climate change.
Speaking at the launch, Aniceto Rodriguez Ruiz, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica indicated that the project is a part of the EU’s wider budget support programme towards sustainable Forest Management in Jamaica and emphasizes inclusiveness especially for the disabled community.
“Last December as a part of the wider project, four contracts were signed with organisations including RISE. Under this contract, inclusivity is important for us, hence this project takes on an added significance following the activation of Jamaica's disabilities act last month which aims to protect the rights of persons living with disabilities. The EU is hopeful that through this project persons living with disabilities, small farmers and artisans will be empowered to make a way for themselves economically and help to span the forest coverage in Manchester,” he said.
The project which will be rolled out over a 18 month period will see outputs including:
The establishment of a 10 acre arboretum and climate change and resilient agriculture training of 150 persons living with disabilities in collaboration with the Manchester-based Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf.
Simulated forest planted by 65 small farmers planting a trifecta of trees, cocoa, Jamaican mahogany, and May pan coconut to mimic an actual forest and deliver the same benefits as an actual forest would in collaboration with the Forestry Department
Creating meaningful employment for new and existing artisans and small farmers to grow and harvest Jippi Jappa and Khus Khus grass in collaboration with Beenybud Jamaica.
An initial 65 small farmers will also be able to dry and export cocoa to international standards in collaboration with Tulloch Estates.
IFMAL will also facilitate a study of the DNA of Jamaican Mahogany which is listed as an endangered species. The findings will be shared with the Forestry Department to complement efforts to restore pure Jamaican Mahogany.
Nadine Chambers Goss, Executive Director from RISELife Management services welcomed the initiative for the impact it is set to make.
“IFMAL is poised to make a significant contribution to the restoration and preservation of one of Jamaica’s key resources, our forests. What it also seeks to do is curtail deforestation and restoration of natural habitats to reduce the threat to livelihoods,” she said.
Further, she outlined activities will be done in two packages in two of the parishes with the highest level of deforestation, Manchester and Saint Catherine and will improve the livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable groups in Jamaica as well as provide a ripple income for the participants by contributing economically to their communities. A wider social Media campaign will also be implemented to increase knowledge and awareness of the broader Jamaican population on the value of the forests.
The Government of Jamaica, via the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, welcomed the initiative as a key part of its commitment to the climate change fight and noted its timely launch on International Day of Forests.
Clehan Williams, senior advisor to Senator Matthew Samuda, Minister of Economic Growth and Job Creation, who brought greetings on his behalf noted that the launch was timely.
“This is an excellent initiative but the fact the launch is being held on International Day of Forests makes the event even more meaningful. I commend the principals of RISE Life management for their commitment to the environment and I thank the EU for funding this initiative and for its invaluable partnership over the years as we work to make sustainable development more than just a catchphrase but a reality in Jamaica for all Jamaicans,” he noted.
The Improved Forest Management and Livelihoods for a better Jamaica (IFMAL) project is one of four recently signed European Union Forestry linked contracts. The other three projects will focus on conserving the forests in the Blue and John Crow mountains. Another is enhancing the capacity of dry forests in the Portland Bight Protected area and the third is focused on building civil society awareness and capacity to engage in participatory budgeting and financial management for the forestry sector.