UK happy to fund Jamaican mangrove project

Climate change threatens the planet’s survival — and Caribbean nations are on the front line.

That was the response given by Judith Slater, British High Commissioner to Jamaica, when asked why the United Kingdom decided to fund the Mangrove Restoration project.

The project is being carried out by The University of the West Indies (UWI) Solutions for Developing Countries (SODECO), in partnership with Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings Limited and other agencies.

Slater told the Jamaica Observer that tackling climate change and building resilience were key strategic priorities for the UK Government.

“That is why the UK is supporting a variety of projects across the Caribbean which address climate impacts. The Blue Carbon Restoration Project in south Clarendon is one of these projects. Funded by the UK Government, through the Inter-American Development Bank, and implemented by the University of the West Indies SODECO unit, this project, which is valued at approximately $360 million Jamaica dollars, will restore mangrove ecosystems in coastal areas of southern Clarendon, Jamaica,” she said.

This vital work, she said, will increase climate protection and help improve lives and livelihoods for the people in surrounding communities.

“Besides capturing enormous amounts of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and thus reducing their levels in the atmosphere, mangroves are important because they help stabilise coastline ecosystems. This project is even more crucial, as mangroves provide natural infrastructure and protection to nearby areas by preventing erosion and absorbing storm surge impacts during extreme weather events such as hurricanes,” she reasoned.

“Mangrove forests also provide a habitat for a wide array of wildlife such as birds, fish, invertebrates, mammals and plants. By restoring these mangroves, one practical result will be an increase in fish stocks, which will assist the livelihoods of fishermen in the region,” Slater said.

Slater told the Observer that with dual investments in both the environment and people through investments in the health, education and socio-economic status of some 50,000 people who reside in the coastal belt in Clarendon, the project is “joined-up and impactful.”

“The UK is delighted to be supporting this vital work as we strive to boost the resilience of small island developing States, like Jamaica,” Slater said.