The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is imploring residents and stakeholders in Negril, Westmoreland, to support efforts by the agency to restore the Negril Great Morass and improve the management of the Negril Environmental Protection Area.
Dubbed ‘Biodiversity Mainstreaming in Coastal Landscapes within the Negril Environmental Protection Area of Jamaica’, this is a subproject of the ‘Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (IWEco)’ project.
The five-year project was launched in November 2018 and is being funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with support from the Government at a combined cost of US$13 million.
Speaking with journalists following a coral out-planting exercise in Orange Bay, Hanover, on September 25, senior manager with responsibility for Projects at NEPA Gregory Thomas said more people need to “buy into the project”, noting that the success of the initiative hinges on human activity.
“We [NEPA] are the vehicle that drive the project, but we hope that everybody will come on board and support it, as it will be of benefit to all stakeholders involved: the farmers, the fisherfolk, the tourism sector, students, and regular persons who inhabit this area,” he informed.
Thomas explained that NEPA intends to heighten the educational component of the IWEco project, as every effort must be made to protect and sustain the project deliverables.
“We are taking several approaches to ensure that the educational component is really strong and that at the end of the day, persons will not just know that NEPA executed a project within the area, but they would have learnt a lot more about how to conserve and how to protect the area within the Negril Environmental Protection Area in general, how to also conserve and manage soil in the case of farmers, and how to carry out their businesses without damaging the environment too much,” he said.
The senior project manager also highlighted ways in which the local populace can further support the initiative.
“The project can be supported by participation in activities that are put on by the project; for example, World Wetlands Day coming up within another two months and World Migratory Birds Day [on October 10]. They can also support us by being a little bit more aware in general and be conscious of their activities, be conscious of how they dispose waste, and be conscious of how they use the resources that the environment provides for them,” he said.
In the meantime, Thomas said the business community will be engaged in a ‘Green Business Jamaica’ component of the project, which “seeks to educate and also strengthen the capacity of these businesses, mostly those in the hotel industry, in terms of their ability to be stewards of the environment”.
“This component is also to ensure that they are optimising the consumption of their resources that are made available to them, and when I speak of resources, I speak of electricity, water and other resources and how best they can ensure that through their actions, the environment, in general, will be better off than it is currently. NEPA is offering as much support as it can to ensure that the project is a success,” he added.