Mangroves provide US$32 million in protection to Jamaica’s coastline
A study on Jamaica’s mangroves has estimated that they provide approximately US$32.7 million in protection to Jamaica’s heavily settled coastline areas.
The study, which was funded by the Program on Forests (PROFOR) through the World Bank, involved several stakeholders including the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA); the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM); the University of California, Santa Cruz; and the University of the West Indies.
The study, entitled “Report Launch of the Forces of Nature Assessment and Economic Valuation of Coastal Protection Services provided by Mangroves in Jamaica (PROFOR Project)" was launched recently at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz said even with the presence of mangroves, the estimate of coastal flooding due to storms here in Jamaica has been put at US$136.4 million in damages.
“What is alarming though, is that without mangroves the estimated damage from flooding would be US$169 million annually,” Vaz said.
“Our mangroves are therefore estimated to provide US$32.7 million in protection to our coastlines. When you factor in the protection of approximately US$2.4 billion in assets (people and infrastructure) during storms, the value of mangroves is more than US$186 million per hectare of mangroves,” Minister Vaz said.
Vaz noted that because of the hilly features of the interior, much of Jamaica’s physical infrastructure such as our electricity generating plants, international airports and seaports, our major roadways among other assets, are located near our coastline.
“Mangroves act as the first and most significant line of defence. Their location between land and sea, their durability and flexibility make them a haven for biodiversity and add to their usefulness and productivity”, he said.
Vaz commended the Forestry Department which is currently conducting an assessment of all the mangroves across Jamaica, to determine the national baseline status with regard to spatial distribution, composition and health.
Since the assessment started in January 2019, the Forestry Department has completed approximately 4600 hectares.
“On completion of this national assessment of the approximately 9700 hectares of mangroves identified in the 2013 land use assessment of Jamaica, the information will feed into the development of a National Mangrove Management Plan,” Vaz said.