EU Climate Change - Jamaica
Jamaica’s natural resources have suffered a decline in quantity and quality over time, due primarily to its heavy dependence on these resources, cultural/traditional unsustainable practices, and the many natural hazards which have affected the island.
Over the last 25 - 30 years, Jamaica has experienced an increase in the frequency of natural events, primarily floods related to inclement weather, tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes, and droughts and landslides. The adverse impacts of hurricanes included a decline in the health of coral reefs; loss of seagrass beds; severe beach erosion and loss of forested areas. The island has, and will continue to be affected by increased frequency and intensity of tropical weather systems, which can partly be attributed to climate change. Between 2004 and 2008, five major storm events caused damage and losses estimated at US$1.2 billion. These have had significant impact on the national economy; the quality of the country’s natural environment and the livelihoods of thousands of people, particularly in rural areas. In addition, the country has experienced loss of lives and property; damage to infrastructure; periodic isolation of communities; and disruption to the school system and health services.
Jamaica, is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, and faces direct threats from climate change because of its geographic location. Detailed climate modelling has not yet been possible for Jamaica, but preliminary research suggests that the region is likely to see increases in extreme weather events such as flood rains and droughts, and an increase in the intensity of hurricanes. Coastal areas in Jamaica are at the forefront of climate change impacts as they are directly affected by storm surges, physical development and sea level rise. With sea levels projected to rise by an average of 2 - 3mm per year during the first half of this century, the effects on the coastal areas will be severe, and include erosion and coastal land subsidence. Coastal areas are already affected by saline intrusion which is likely to be exacerbated by climate change. These issues highlight the importance of this project which seeks to reduce risks and assist with adaptation to climate change.
How the Project Seeks to Address the Issues:
In response to the above mentioned situation, Read More:
The Forestry Department Lends A Helping Hand to Constitution Hill Farmers
Climate change has demanded the attention and intervention from the institutions charged with such matters. In seeking to address the issues surrounding this phenomenon, partnerships are being forged to deal with its impacts, locally, regionally and globally. In Jamaica, the launch of Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan gave fresh impetus to addressing Climate change and environmental issues.
The Government forged a partnership with the European Union and the United Nations Environment Programme in a project to reduce the risks caused by natural hazards and to increase resilience of vulnerable areas in an effort to adapt to climate change.
Known as GOJ/EU/UNEP Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project, with 4.4M Euros in funding from the EU and technical and managerial support from UNEP and the GOJ was implemented over the period 2011-3013. The Project was Co-Managed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica. The project, which closed last week, was implemented by the Forestry Department, the National Environment and Planning Agency, the Meteorological Services of Jamaica and the Environmental Management Division of Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change. Each institution contributed enormously in their respective skills set, often with successes beyond goals set by CCADRRP.
One Forestry Department effort that should be applauded, is the creation of 4Local Forest Management Committees (LFMCs) in Constitution Hill, Dallas Castle and Westphalia in St. Andrew and Sawyers in Trelawny. These communities received training in basic Business Management and Accounting and also how to operate as a cooperative. Committee members were also trained in good agroforestry practice, by having demonstration plots established in their communities, where practical skills were taught. These programmes within the community were designed within the context of Climate change. Deep in the hills of St. Andrew, the Constitution Hill LFMC is headed by Walter Welch, a community leader who is proud to be an environmentalist. Leading 126 other members of the Committee, Welch is putting energy and ideas into protecting the forest, maintaining their livelihoods, and even creating new ones.
It was easy for the Forestry Department to choose Constitution Hill as one of the first to participate in the project. The community was very conscious that some of their traditional farming practices had encroached on the forests and that their livelihoods were at stake. They welcomed the intervention and jumped into the project enthusiastically.
Forestry Department hosted workshops that taught the LFMC members about the importance of having a forest, best practices for the forest and its environs as well as alternative ways to earn a living without destroying the natural resources that aid in their protection during times of natural disasters.
Forestry funded an alternative livelihood project for the Constitution Hill’s farming community. This, include apiculture and commercial timber and fruit production on private lands. The apiary has ten colonies with plans to increase to at least 20 by next year and a minimum of 40 in three years. Trees planted for commercial timber include, mahogany, cedar and blue mahoe, but these will take approximately 20 years to reap returns. The commercial fruit trees planted were avocado, mango, june plum and lychee just to name a few.
With the aid of the Local Forest Management Committee, Forestry introduced Intercropping Intervention. This involves planting of cash crops like plantain, banana, sorrel and pak choi. “I saw blossoms on some of the trees, just this past Sunday on one of the farmer’s land”, said Welch triumphantly.
Forestry Department and the LFMC in constitution Hill, established a demonstration plot in the community to train farmers. This plot will harvest one thousand four hundred pineapple suckers as part of the Revolving Pineapple Sucker Planting Programme. Community members also participated in this program, by planting five thousand six hundred pineapple suckers on their private lands. That programme is likely to see an expansion of approximately twenty thousand suckers within a year.
The Forestry Department’s Agroforestry Specialist, Cheryl McLeod, is proud of what has been accomplished in Constitution Hill. “What stood out the most for me is that they work together as a group, not as individuals,” said McLeod.
With many farmers relocated out of the forest area, Forestry can now begin to resuscitate the forestlands. The trees in these forest areas are vital for the survival of communities like Constitution Hill. They hold the soil in place, which aids in preventing landslides and erosion.
With the help of Welch and his determined Committee members, Forestry intends to make Constitution Hill a model of sustainability and a template for intervention in the hundreds of communities like this across Jamaica.
Ms. Novlette Douglas, Director, Policy, Planning, Evaluation and Research Division at the National Environment and Planning Agency presents an award on behalf of the Forestry Department to Yvonne Mattison, long serving member of the Constitution Hill LFMC for being the Most Outstanding Agro Forestry/Livelihood Project. The award was presented at the closing ceremony for the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project held on December 10, 2013 at the Knutsford Court Hotel.
Constitution Hill LFMC members, (From left to right) Frans Brown, Yvonne Mattison, Talbert Hibbert and Glasford Campbell digging and planting ‘Simmons Avocado’ during a training day on their demonstration plot.