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:
- Yallas Valley Land Authority
- Christiana Area Land Authority
- Morant-Yallas Agricultural Development
- Hope River Watershed Project
- Hillside Agricultural Project
- Integrated Rural Development Project
- Soil Nutrients for Agricultural Productivity
- Jamaica Agricultural Research Project
Senior Director, Research and Development
Ministry of Agriculture and Mining, Bodles Research
St. Catherine, Jamaica
Agencies and their respective responsibilities
Ministry of Agriculture
Rural Agricultural Development Authority
Rural Physical Planning Unit
Research and Development Division
- Land husbandry and on-farm
- Management and Reforestation of
- 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
- Waste water
University of Technology
- Land Surveying
- Planning training
- Jamaica Bauxite Industry
- Mining - largest disturbance
- Land reclamation
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.
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
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:
- Watershed degradation
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sand mining
mining in river beds and on agricultural land is posing major problems mainly
in the parishes of St. Catherine and Clarendon.
- 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.
- Access to information
vast amount of information generated in various projects is considered "grey"
literature and is often inaccessible.
- 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.
It is not all gloom and doom in the area of land and water management. The following are the bright spots:
- Policies enacted or being reviewed
Land, Forestry, Watershed and Soils Policies are being
enacted or reviewed.
- Agencies for enforcement and management
The following agencies have been established for
enforcement or management of the respective resources:
- National Environment and Planning Agency - a
recently created executive agency
- Water Resources Agency - maintains control of water
use and development of new water sources or schemes
- Pesticides Control Authority - regulates pesticide import, manufacture and disposal. Limits imports and manufacture of highly toxic and persistent pesticides into the country.
- Establishment of secondary and tertiary centralized
sewage schemes in Negril, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, Portmore and Kingston.
- Reuse of grey water from sewage systems for
irrigation e.g. Portmore St. Catherine.
- The Soil Nutrition and Agricultural Productivity
(SNAP) project is reviewing nutrient levels in major soils
- Availability of GIS with relevant data for land and
- Standardised scales used in network of GIS users
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:
- Invitation to agencies to nominate representatives
- Review areas of operation and responsibility
- Identify areas of overlap
- Identify priorities for CLAWRENET
- Develop land and water management databases
- Provide links to Web pages
- Identify information gaps