EU provides technical support to Jamaica’s Forestry Department

Acting Chief Executive Officer and Conservator of Forests, Rainee Oliphant (left), in discussion with Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, Jolita Butkeviciene (centre), and Head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, during Monday’s launch of €850,000 (J$128 million) ‘EU Budget Support Programme for the Forest Sector Project’, at Hope Gardens in St. Andrew. (Photo: Adrian Walker, JIS)

The Forestry Department has received technical assistance support from the European Union (EU) totalling €850,000 (J$128 million) that will significantly boost the agency’s work in relation to the management and conservation of Jamaica’s forest resources, over the next three years.

The provision, to be administered through the ‘EU Budget Support Programme for the Forest Sector’ project, will facilitate the development of a sustainable business model for the department.

This will assist in bolstering the entity’s operational efficiency and identifying new and emerging business opportunities, while targeting increased growth and productivity across Jamaica’s forests.

Additionally, the engagement between the Government of Jamaica and the Delegation of the EU, which falls under the Budget Support Programme for Improved Forest Management for Jamaica (IFMJ), will heighten awareness of the forest sector by highlighting and engaging communities in forest-dependent areas, and promoting the impact of actions already implemented. 

The project was formally launched at Hope Gardens in St. Andrew on Monday (March 9).

The Department’s Acting Chief Executive Officer and Conservator of Forests, Rainee Oliphant, said the development of a business model “is something that we are excited about, because we want to go beyond just being the technical repository of information, and be a revenue-generating organisation as well”.

She noted that since April 2018, the EU’s Budget Support Programme, aimed at addressing environmental and climate change challenges through improved forest management, has been supporting the implementation of Jamaica’s Forest Policy, as well as several key components of the National Forest Management and Conservation Plan (NFMCP).

The NFMCP is a 10-year plan for the forest sector and is the only climate-resilient sector plan that has been developed in Jamaica, to date.

Oliphant said that by contributing to the development of a vibrant, sustainable and climate-resilient forest sector in Jamaica, the EU is “helping the country in innumerable ways”.

“It is good for our local forest sector and a good time for our local forest sector and today we are grateful for the launch of this visibility programme, which we know will bring much attention to our forest sector generally, and the work of the Forestry Department,” she added.

Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, Jolita Butkeviciene, who also spoke at the launch, underscored the project’s importance.

She said that in light of the extent to which climate change continues to impact countries around the world, “the best way of preserving the planet [is] to preserve its natural resources”, while pointing out that “the first… that comes to mind is the forests”.

Against this background, Butkeviciene praised the Government-led initiative to plant three million tress over the next three years.

“It’s something that really raises awareness and builds an ‘all-of-society-approach’… and is extremely important in terms of fighting [harmful] carbon [dioxide] emissions,” she said.

While noting that the EU has provided programmed budget support of €15 million to the Government to counter the degradation of Jamaica’s forests, “[which] is a lot of money”, Butkeviciene contended that this alone “will not solve the problem”.

She emphasised that the solution “is in the hands of the Government”, in relation to further enhancing the legislative and regulatory frameworks to achieve improved outcomes, while recommitting the EU’s support for efforts aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change.

The launch also saw the unveiling of a promotional video and jingle that will be featured over the project’s duration.

Among the officials and guests attending were Spain’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Josep Maria Bosch Bessa; and Head of the Delegation of the EU to Jamaica, the Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands and The Bahamas, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska.