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Land and water resources are critical to the sustainable development of the country. Through PROCICARIBE, a land and water resources network (CLAWRENET) has been created to ensure collaboration, identify priorities for research and development at the local and regional levels. At this time of the launch of the regional network, the national network in Jamaica is not yet in place.

Ministries with responsibility for land and water resources

In Jamaica, the work of four Ministries - Land and Environment, Water, Agriculture and Transport and Works - impacts on soil and water resources. Within these ministries there are many agencies such as the Water Resources Agency, National Environment and Planning Agency, National Water Commission, National Irrigation Commission and Land Administration and Management Project. Table 1 lists some other agencies and their functions.

Projects on soil and water conservation

Projects addressing soil and water conservation issues have been ongoing in Jamaica for more than 50 years. These projects include:

Joseph lindsay
Senior Director, Research and Development
Ministry of Agriculture and Mining, Bodles Research Station
St. Catherine, Jamaica


Agencies and their respective responsibilities



Ministry of Agriculture

Rural Agricultural Development Authority
Forestry Department
Rural Physical Planning Unit

Research and Development Division

  • Land husbandry and on-farm irrigation
  • Management and Reforestation of state lands
  • Soil and land use survey
  • Soil and plant analyses
  • Crop production and research
  • Livestock research
  • Soil and water management
  • Soil fertility

Other Ministries and Institutes

Ministry of Geology and mines

  • Regulation of mining - bauxite, limestone, gypsum, sand

Sugar Industry Research Institute

  • Irrigation in sugar cane
  • Tillage and soil preparation
  • Analyses of soil, plant and water

Universities and Regional Institutions

University of the West Indies


Geography and Geology

  • Geology, GIS, sustainable development

International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences

  • Use of slow-poke reactor
  • Assessment of heavy metals
  • Use of nuclear techniques
  • GIS

Life Sciences

  • Agroforestry
  • Aquaculture/Fisheries
  • Waste water

University of Technology

  • GIS
  • Land Surveying
  • Planning training
  • Architecture
  • Engineering

Bauxite Industry

  • Jamaica Bauxite Industry
  • Mining - largest disturbance
  • Land reclamation

Current projects

These include the Eastern Jamaica Agricultural Support Project and the "Ridge to Reef" Watershed Management Project.

The above list is not exhaustive as other projects have been executed in related areas such as irrigation expansion and soil, water and environmental issues. Several short-term studies have been conducted by various university departments, CARDI, IICA, the Jamaica Agricultural Development Foundation (JADF), etc. The data need to be collected and collated for a comprehensive land and water resources database.

Environmental NGOs

Several non-governmental organizations with interests in environmental management exist in Jamaica. Whereas some are independently funded, most depend on projects for funding. The National Environment Society's Trust (NEST) is a network of environmental groups in Jamaica. The Jamaica Conservation Development Trust (JCDT) has major responsibilities such as management of the first National Park established in Jamaica - the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.

Other NGOs involved in environmental work are the:

Negril Environment Protection Trust

South Trelawny Environment Agency

Saint Thomas Environment Protection Agency, and Portland Environment Protection Agency

Funding of projects and activities

The bulk of the funding for land and water research and management has been provided by the state. These funds have come from the annual budget for support of its agencies or through bilateral loans and grants.

The Environment Foundation of Jamaica is probably the best-known local agency which has resources for funding smaller projects in local land and water management. The Jamaica Agricultural Development Foundation has also provided funding in these areas. Major sources of funds - grants and loans - over many years have been UNDP-FAO, CDB and the Government of the Netherlands

Hot spots

There are many land and water resource situations and issues, that can only worsen and impact negatively on the development of the country and its people, if they are not addressed. The list is not exhaustive but the following are the main issues:

  1. Watershed degradation

    The country has been divided into 26 watershed management units. Each is being degraded to different extents. Deforestation, charcoal burning and annual fires are some of the main problems.

  2. Waterway and harbour contamination

    Kingston Harbour and other river outlets are being seriously damaged by agro-chemicals, soil sediments, sewage and other household wastes. Nutrients and other chemicals are resulting in contamination and bleaching of corals. This is posing a threat to the reefs and the sustainability of the beaches.

  3. Soil salinity

    In the major irrigated areas of the southern parts of the parishes of St. Catherine and Clarendon, large areas of land have become saline. Much of this area has been taken out of production. Measures to halt this process as well as to mitigate saline areas are urgently required.

  4. Sand mining

    Illegal sand mining in river beds and on agricultural land is posing major problems mainly in the parishes of St. Catherine and Clarendon.

  5. Soil fertility depletion and management

    Information on the nutrient status of major soils needs to be updated or reviewed. The management and restoration of soil organic matter should also be addressed urgently.

  6. Access to information

    The vast amount of information generated in various projects is considered "grey" literature and is often inaccessible.

  7. Lack of a coordinating mechanism for research in land and water management

    There is no coordinating mechanism for the myriad projects and activities in land and water management.

Bright spots

It is not all gloom and doom in the area of land and water management. The following are the bright spots:

  1. Policies enacted or being reviewed
    Land, Forestry, Watershed and Soils Policies are being enacted or reviewed.
  2. Agencies for enforcement and management
    The following agencies have been established for enforcement or management of the respective resources:
  3. Establishment of secondary and tertiary centralized sewage schemes in Negril, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Portmore and Kingston.
  4. Reuse of grey water from sewage systems for irrigation e.g. Portmore St. Catherine.
  5. The Soil Nutrition and Agricultural Productivity (SNAP) project is reviewing nutrient levels in major soils
  6. Availability of GIS with relevant data for land and water management
  7. Standardised scales used in network of GIS users groups.

Funding and personnel

Pockets of local funding for environment projects exist. There is a cadre of trained personnel in land and water management-related areas. Several courses in GIS are available locally. The UWI has a supercomputer which provides internet server and other facilities for scanning and digitizing maps.

Priorities for the development of national work programmes

The following are the next steps involved in establishing priorities for the development of national work programmes:

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