12 May 2010

International Biodiversity Day, 2010

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Under the theme Jamaican Youth Protecting our Watershed and Wetland the Hon. Minister Grange launched International Biodiversity Day. The launch took place on 12 May 2010 at the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO. Mr. Everton Hannam, Secretary-General, Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO opened the proceedings.

The Hon. Minister explained “Reversing biodiversity loss has proven to be challenging in the short term for Jamaica, as a small island. It has traditionally depended on its rich environmental resources for the development of two of its main foreign exchange earners, tourism and bauxite,” She said the launch and the activities which are to follow, is evidence of Jamaica’s commitment to redoubling efforts to make up for lost ground.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry and Chairman of the UNESCO Youth Committee, Senator Warren Newby, said that the Ministry would undertake five projects to increase awareness of environment and biodiversity issues.

 Five projects were identified for completion between May 2010 and April 2011:

The Hope River watershed in St. Andrew
Duhaney River, West St. Andrew
Negril Morass, Westmoreland/Hanover
Fern Gully, St. Ann
Holland Bamboo, St. Elizabeth

Each project will have three (3) components:
Volunteer Day
Public awareness and sensitization campaign
Ongoing cleanup or planting campaign by communities surrounding these ecosystems

Mr. Cesar Toro, Programme Specialist for Science from the UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office spoke on the challenge to biodiversity which “has been lost at an unprecedented rate, mostly due to unsustainable human activities” and noted that its reversal has become one of the major challenges that society faces today. UNESCO established the Man and the Biosphere Programme “to improve the relationship of people with their environment. It uses the World Network of Biosphere Reserves as vehicles for Knowledge sharing, research and monitoring, education and training, and participatory decision making”. Following the UNESCO Seminar on Biosphere Reserves, Montego Bay (5-9 April 2009) a series of consultations are ongoing with countries like Dominica and Jamaica to establish biosphere reserves.