Find Forestry expertise in Jamaica
- Natural resources
Jamaica boasts 335,915 hectares of forest and of this 93,600 hectares are publically owned. The forestry industry, along with agriculture and fisheries contributed 6% of GDP in 2010. A large amount, approximately 35% of all forests, is protected and over 73% is closed broadleaf forest. In 2012 approximately 30% of the island was covered by forest. Some of the most important tree species in Jamaica are the blue mahoe (Jamaica’s national tree), Spanish elm, cedar, guango, Jamaica mahogany and lignum vitae which bears Jamaica’s national flower.
The lead agency responsible for the conservation and management of forest reserves is the Government Forestry Department. It operates according to the mandate of the 1996 Forest Act, and aims to manage Jamaica’s forests in a sustainable manner while maintaining and increasing the environmental services and economic benefits that they provide.
The Forestry Department has put in place a number of public awareness programmes and initiatives to educate the Jamaican people about the importance of the nation’s forests for both economic and social reasons. One initiative started in 2003 was National Tree Planting Day, an annual event which includes the whole community in conservation efforts. Since the first National Tree Planting Day more than 100,000 seedlings provided by the Forestry Department have been planted. Private landowners are encouraged to plant unused land with trees and to declare any forested area as a forest reserve which would entitle them to benefits including tax remission.
Jamaica’s forests are under threat however from those illegally cutting down trees. The FAO estimated in 2011 that over the preceding 5 to 10 years, approximately 350 hectares of forest were lost every year. To combat illegal deforestation, a team of 40 forest rangers is employed by the Forestry Department.
Most of Jamaica’s forest reserves are located in the rugged terrain areas like the Blue Mountains, the John Crow Mountains, and the Cockpit Country, as well as the dry hills in the south and west of the island. The 1998 analysis of forest cover in Jamaica indicated that 20% of land within forest reserves has been affected by human activity which has encouraged the Forestry Department to take action to protect Jamaica’s forests.
Jamaica is often referred to as the land of wood and water and wood production and products remain a crucial commodity to the island. At a local level, wood remains important for fuel requirements, shelter production and household use, and at a national level it is also used to increase the potential of rural areas and subsequently reduce the need for rural-urban migration, a source of renewable energy and to provide employment opportunities. In 2005, 1,132 people were employed in Jamaica’s forestry industry (FAO, 2010) and over 100 companies involved in forestry and wood processing in Jamaica.
Imported wood products have become increasingly important for Jamaica as they generate employment opportunities in wood-products industries. Jamaica mainly imports round wood, wood charcoal, chips and particles, paper, and paperboard.
|Forestry organisations in Jamaica|
|Davis Enterprise Ltd (Lumber Retail)||
|Fine Cut Saw Mill Ltd||
|Masterton Ltd (Sawmill)||
|Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries||
|Phil's Hardware Ltd (Lumber Retail)||