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The Forestry Department is partnering with the Making An Impact All-Together (MAIA) Foundation to boost food security in forest-dependent communities by upscaling the agroforestry component of various projects being carried out by Local Forest Management Committees (LFMCs) and community-based organizations.

The Foundation handed over 100 large fruit trees on Friday to the Grants Mountain, and South East Cockpit Country LFMCs and the Linton Park Community Development Committee, one of the recipients of the European Union Budget Support Programme’s Alternative Livelihood Project. The Forestry Department also received trees which will be handed over to LFMCs in the eastern section of the island.

CEO & Conservator of Forests, Ainsley Henry, says the collaboration, which is being done in commemoration of Jamaica’s 60th year of independence, is a welcomed one and has commended the MAIA Foundation on its drive to boost alternative livelihood projects as well as promote zero hunger.

“We applaud organizations like the MAIA Foundation, which not only recognise the existing problems but have provided solutions to remedy them. The Forestry Department actively promotes agroforestry because of the environmental, economic, and social benefits derived from the practice. We are heartened by this donation that will bolster the efforts of these groups,” Mr. Henry said.

He says the trees will also count towards the target of the National Tree Planting Initiative and has used the opportunity to welcome the MAIA Foundation as an official partner under the programme.

Meanwhile, Program Manager, Policy & Project Development at the MAIA Foundation, Natalie Johnson, says this partnership forms part of the Foundation’s thrust to promote integrated ecological solutions to combat deforestation and forest degradation while supporting the livelihoods of forest-dependent people.

“We believe that in any landscape, agroforestry can create transition zones that help "reignite" agricultural activity, helping people and communities to create multi-functional and more sustainable systems to produce food, fiber, and biodiversity, and so we hope that this will contribute to more job opportunities that will increase economic well-being in rural communities,” she shared.

She says the Foundation looks forward to continued partnership with the Forestry Department as the group works to reignite and improve the social livelihood of Jamaicans.

In the meantime, Gavin Gordon, Vice-president of the Grants Mountain Local Forest Management Committee Benevolent Society, says the group is extremely grateful for the generous donation by the MAIA Foundation. “We at the Grant’s Mountain LFMC Benevolent Society are very versed in the Agricultural field; therefore, we are always open and appreciative of anything in that regard. We are especially grateful for this donation from the MAIA Foundation, as it will help us to come closer together as a group and encourage everyone to engage in the activities of the group. The fruit trees will also add variety to our member’s agricultural plots at home, in their fields, and by extension the variety/numbers of fruit trees in our little community,” Mr. Grant said.

The MAIA Foundation is a non-partisan environmental charity organization with the mission of making Jamaica and the Caribbean Carbon Neutral. The Foundation designed and built Jamaica’s first Climate Smart Agricultural Greenhouse Academy in St. Ann and established Jamaica’s first and second Eco-Village/large urban gardens in Denham Town and Hannah Town in West Kingston.

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