Jamaicans set to put an economic value on a threatened mangrove site
By Mangrove Alliance, Tue, 08/05/2012 - 23:47
The Windsor Research Centre (WRC) is implementing a project to engage the people of Jamaica in the conservation and protection of the Coral Spring-Mountain Spring Protected Area (CPMSPA) and its mangrove habitat. The project will integrate the voice of the Jamaican people in an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, by raising awareness amongst the local community on the importance of this protected area and by determining what economic value local and national stakeholders place on its conservation. The CSMSPA represents some of the highest-quality coastal habitat on Jamaica’s north coast including a beach strand, tidal inlet, mangroves and adjacent fringing coral reefs. Because of its natural assets, the area is an important component of the North Coast Forest Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) and also a valuable recreational site; on the western edge of the CSMSPA is Burwood Beach, a public beach regularly visited by both Jamaicans and foreign tourists. “The Jamaican Government created the CSMSPA in 1998 as a pre-condition for a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the construction of a major highway”, said Michael Schwartz, WRC´s Project Manager. “This in itself was a mitigation action against deforestation and fragmentation associated with re-alignment of an older roadway. However, this site is under threat of limestone quarry activities. A Quarry Zone was declared in the area in 2005 after a survey showed the presence of high purity limestone and on January 19th 2012 we learned that Terms of Reference for an Environmental Impact Assessment were being prepared for quarry operations”, emphasized Mike Schwartz.
During a seven month period this year (between March and September) WRC will prepare and distribute a series of awareness materials to sensitize their target audience and later conduct an island-wide economic valuation survey of CSMSPA. Jamaica´s National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) who is already looking at incorporating economic valuation into EIAs will be kept informed of WRC´s progress. Also, decision-makers and EIA professionals will be informed of results from the survey, as part of a wider campaign to conserve the area. WRC is BirdLife´s project partner in Jamaica and no stranger to these types of challenges and exercises. Economic valuation of the CSMSPA will be based on their experiences with a recently-completed, similar exercise for Cockpit Country, an Important Bird Area under continued pressures from bauxite mining and limestone quarrying. The project Strengthening stakeholder-based conservation of a threatened mangrove site using an economic valuation method is supported by the Mangrove Alliance Small Grants Program (SGP) with funds from the MacArthur Foundation. The Mangrove Alliance SGP aims to catalyze community-based mangrove conservation in the Insular Caribbean and currently also supports projects in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.