Jamaicans urged to protect biodiversity

Jamaicans are being urged to take personal responsibility for preserving the environment.

Senior Public Education and Community Outreach Officer, National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Ava Tomlinson, in making the call said that this is important in ensuring “a shared future for all”.

“It requires the continuous, deliberate actions of all persons. You can help by reducing biodiversity loss. Our actions can impact plants, animals, and microorganisms negatively.

“Try not to do burning, which impacts human beings and destroys the habitat of plants and animals. How we dispose of our waste impacts the marine environment,” she pointed out.

She was speaking as Jamaica was preparing to observe International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22 under the theme ‘Building a shared future for all life’.

Tomlinson said that NEPA is already undertaking awareness-building activities, which will continue after the day.

“Commemorating International Biodiversity Day is not just about the 22nd of May. It is over a period of time, and so the agency had already started is sensitisation. We were in Negril with the Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management (IWEco) Project where we had presentations with the Negril Primary School,” she noted.

Other entities, such as the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ), Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) and the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST), have hosted biodiversity awareness events ahead of the international commemoration.

With National Labour Day following the observance on May 23, Ms. Tomlinson is encouraging Jamaicans to plant trees within their communities and take better care of the plants and animals around them.

Meanwhile, NEPA has selected the Mason River Protected Area in Clarendon for special focus.

“The Mason River Protected Area is a unique space in Jamaica. It is our only interior wetland and space of international importance. It is one of the unique spaces where you will find peat bog; several types of ferns, including rare ferns; sinkholes, and the prickly pole palm tree that is endemic to Jamaica,” Tomlinson said.

NEPA, in collaboration with the IOJ, will be hosting several schools within proximity to the Mason River Protected Area on June 1, to experience and learn about the diversity of the wetland.

The schools include Brandon Hill Primary, Prospect Primary, Red Hills Primary, Anderson Town Primary, Bunker’s Hill Primary, Hark Hall Primary and Mount Carmel Primary.

“They will be spending the morning session with us as they get a tour of Mason River Protected Area, and the students can expect to see these unique and special plants as well the weather station which is located in the Mason River area,” Tomlinson said.

The 202-acre Mason River Protected Area is also home to 54 species of birds and four carnivorous plant species and was designated a Wetland of International Importance (or Ramsar Site) in 2011.

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