“Only One Earth”: NEPA urges J’cans to help protect the planet

Senior Public Education Officer at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Ava Tomlinson (third from right), hosts a birding session with teachers from 20 elementary schools in Portland Bight Discovery Center as part of the 2018 Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival. Environmental awareness helps in appreciation and individual responsibility for environmental protection. Photo: JIS

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) reminds Jamaicans that all life on earth is interconnected and as such everyone has a responsibility to help protect the environment.

The reminder comes as NEPA concludes activities to mark National Environmental Awareness Week 2022 from June 1-8, which included World Environment Day on June 5, under the theme “One Earth”.

The theme emphasizes the need for personal and collective action to protect and restore planet Earth.

Director of Ecosystems Management Branch, NEPA, Monique Curtis, noting the interconnectedness of life on earth, said that “although we take this for granted, what you throw down a ravine in your earthly environment may actually end up on the coastline”. in Jamaica or another country. This shows you the level of connectedness and why your actions can contribute to this “one world” concept.

Jamaica has joined countries around the world in taking action against activities that have a negative impact on health and the environment, including signing conventions to reduce the impact of climate change and emissions of greenhouse gas.

Campaigns and programs have been undertaken to make people aware of how their daily actions can contribute to maintaining a healthy environment. Some of these target waste management and plastic minimization, including banning single-use plastics, where Jamaica has made notable progress.

Additionally, the designation of the Blue and John Crow Mountains as a Protected National Heritage Site in 2014, prior to UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 2015, is a key achievement at the national level.

There are nearly 300 protected areas across Jamaica, the newest being the Cockpit Country Protected Area and the Black River Protected Area.

Protected areas are managed by NEPA, the Forestry Department, the Fisheries Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) in partnership with non-governmental organizations.

At a more granular level, NEPA’s Environmental Management and Conservation Division is responsible for environmental conservation and protection and environmental management, which reviews the quality of the environment. pollution prevention, water quality monitoring and surveillance, etc.

The Division’s Ecosystem Management Branch carries out activities related to beach management and monitoring, coastal and marine resource monitoring, species conservation and watershed management.

This branch is responsible for many flora and fauna conservation projects.

“Most may be familiar with the Jamaican Iguana Recovery Project, and we do this type of project for other endangered species, including the American Crocodile, as well as plant species.

“So we have management activities around even orchids, because we know they’re used in the commercial sector and that’s one of those issues that we need to protect from international trade,” Curtis said.

Similar to the Iguana Recovery Project, the American Crocodile Starter Program aims to foster the development of juvenile species to a point where they can survive when reintroduced into the wild.

The American crocodile is classified as a vulnerable species and the Jamaican iguana is critically endangered.

Monitoring and reporting work on flora and fauna species and the management of their ecosystems is carried out by field or environmental officers with technical expertise in environmental management, monitoring and ecology.

Using standardized data collection methods, these officers spend most of their time in the field collecting information on various species and their habitats. Populations and habitat status are monitored through technical reports.

“For example, officers in the marine and coastal unit are trained divers and they assess coral reefs. We typically do more than 20 sites for a fiscal year where we collect data on the status of corals and species in that area and report it in an annual status report,” Curtis said.

“We also do species monitoring such as bird population assessments, especially those that are targeted in the game bird management space, to inform our game bird season. We also report on the population of American Crocodiles throughout the island. We have just completed a two-year project, which was funded by US partners as well as the Natural Resources Conservation Authority,” she added.

Findings from the assessments inform NEPA of the progress of measures being implemented to conserve coral reefs, protect bird and crocodile populations, and limit human interactions with potentially dangerous species. These assessments are also carried out for plant species.

Curtis said that with several endemic animal species acting as natural seed dispersers and pollinators, which in turn positively impacts food and canopy cover, they become a vital part of the ecosystem. .

Since human activities can affect the balance or instability of plant and animal life, it is therefore important for each person to recognize that there is “only one Earth”.

NEPA also marked National Solid Waste Day on June 6.

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