The EU, through a partnership with the Government of Jamaica, via its Forestry Department, has been funding 46 projects to improve Jamaica’s climate resilience. The sub projects are under the 3-year Budget Support for Improved Forest Management for Jamaica (IFMJ) Project, two such sub projects are located in the forested communities of Crofts Hill and Ward Hill in Clarendon, where agriculture is the primary source of income.
Despite agriculture being integral for the communities, they have experienced significant degradation due to improper farming practices, mining and tree felling. Under the EU-funded projects, farmers from the Crofts Hill farmers group and the Morant farmers group are playing their part in restoring the forested areas through improved techniques, sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices.
In Ward Hill, farmers from the Morant farmers group have been trained to use apiculture and agroforestry to maintain a balance between the forest ecosystem and the community. Alvin Smith and Hensley Golding are beneficiaries of the project. They have acknowledged the importance of the balance between communities and forests and have welcomed the project as a good initiative that will help to sustain their watershed areas.
“The people from the Forestry Department came, and they enlightened us that slash and burn, we mustn't do it, even in our home we mustn't do any burning because it is one of the things that spoil up the environment,” said Smith.
He added that they have also changed the way they dispose of garbage to protect the vegetation and waterways.
Noting that they did not know apiculture before the training phase of the project, the farmers say they now have a better understanding of the connection between apiculture, agroforestry and the preservation of forested areas in their communities.
In rural communities like these, it is common practice to cut trees for charcoal or other purposes. With the new knowledge of how to conserve the forests while making a living, project participants say community members now want to learn more about earning and keeping the forests alive.
Over in Crofts Hill, a greenhouse project has allowed for diversified farming near forested areas without negatively affecting the biodiversity. Carlene Johnson, one of the participants, says one of the project’s benefits has been an increase in the number of trees.
“When you have more trees, we get more rainfall, and the rainfall will increase the output of the vegetable seedlings we are currently producing in the vegetable nursery,” she added.
Programme Manager - Environment and Rural Development at the EU, Stefano Cilli says the projects with the Morant and Crofts Hill farmers groups are only one component of the Improved Forest Management for Jamaica (IFMJ) Action plan. The project includes three main areas of focus including:
- Reversing forest degradation, deforestation, and loss of forest biodiversity through conservation and sustainable forest management,
- Strengthening the legislative, policy, and institutional framework of the sector
- Enhancing economic, social, and environmental benefits of forests through the sustainable utilization of forest resources
“Jamaica is covered for more than a third of the national surface by forest. Therefore, it is important to preserve them and to manage them well in a sustainable way,” he said.
For this reason, he says, the project focuses on modernizing legislation, diminishing the pressure on the forest, reforestation, and afforestation with particular attention to native Jamaican species and providing forest management tools such as a mangrove atlas.
The projects are in line with the European Union's Development Agenda for Change. They are also in line with the objectives of the 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which includes adapting to protect communities and natural habitats. In addition, the partnership with Jamaica supports the realization of Jamaica’s Vision 2030 National Development Plan and the 11th EDF National Indicative Programme.