Wednesday, March 27, 2013

There's 'Gold' in Jamaica's Blue Mountains!

JCDT moves to earn carbon credits from Blue & John Crow mountains

BY DENISE DENNIS Career & Education staff reporter
Sunday, January 06, 2013

JAMAICA could earn as much as US$10 million if it is determined that the implementation of a proposed carbon forest project would be able to generate carbon credits to be traded on the international voluntary market.
Last April, the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT) made a proposal to the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change for the Government to endorse and support efforts to assess the carbon credit value of the forest of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
The JCDT proposed that a study be conducted to determine the feasibility of carbon credit trading, and to design a carbon forest project in order to generate additional carbon credits to be traded.
Countries such as Jamaica, whose carbon emissions fall below a set allowance, can sell the difference, in the form of credits, to other countries that exceed their limits. Credits are normally purchased by companies wanting to reduce their carbon footprint, that is, where their activities are resulting in the production of carbon, for example, airlines, oil or gas companies, electricity companies, and manufacturers. As a result, these companies need to support activities that will sequester more carbon in forests.
Susan Otuokon, consultant with the JCDT, told the Jamaica Observer that Minister of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill has responded positively to the proposal. The nongovernmental organisation is now seeking funding from the Inter-Development Bank (IDB) to put in place the feasibility study.
“If the proposal to the IDB is successful, which will not be known until the second quarter of 2013, then JCDT will establish a Project Advisory Committee to include representatives from the ministry, the Forestry Department, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Commissioner of Lands, and other relevant agencies to guide the feasibility study,” she said.
Otuokon noted that if the proposal to the IDB is unsuccessful, then JCDT, along with the ministry, will pursue other options to source the funds required.
She said the proposal was made in order to identify new ways to generate income for improved and sustainable management of the national park, including conservation of the forest ecosystems and sustainable community livelihoods.
“JCDT believes that the income from the purchase of carbon credits from the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park should be used firstly to improve and sustain management of the national park and secondly to study or assess the possibility of other carbon forest projects in Jamaica,” Otuokon said.
She added that the implementation of a carbon forest project will lead to the conservation of existing forests through reforestation and agro-forestry, the enforcement of relevant legislation, the reduction of soil erosion, and improved watershed management.
While she could not specify the precise amount that could be earned through carbon credit trading, Otuokon said the estimated income from a carbon forest project in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is between US$5 and US$10 million. She noted that the current budget for the national park is US$300,000 — US$200,000 less than the ideal budget.
More than 70 per cent of the current budget is raised by the JCDT from a variety of donor agencies, while less than 30 per cent comes from the Government, through the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA).
“JCDT proposes that income from the sale of carbon credits be placed in its endowment fund, which supports management of the national park. Only interest generated from the capital within the endowment fund would be used for management of the national park,thus ensuring some level of financial sustainability and also the ability to increase the level of funding beyond the current level, closer to the ideal,” Otuokon said.
JCDT hopes that Pickersgill’s ministry will participate fully in the project, help source funds for the other studies and assessments that will be required for the development of a carbon forest project, and agree that JCDT be provided with a reasonable percentage of the income generated from trading the carbon credits.
In addition, Otuokon said the JCDT believes that a percentage of the income should be used to fund the necessary studies of other forested areas in Jamaica to guide pursuit of possible carbon trading as a source of income for those sites.
JCDT manages the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park under a delegation agreement with the NRCA through NEPA. It also has a collaborative management agreement with both the NRCA/NEPA and the Forestry Department since the boundaries of the national park and forest reserve overlap.

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