Jamaica’s new road projects will receive a facelift after Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced on Thursday (March 16) that the Forestry Department will be collaborating with the National Works Agency (NWA) to plant trees along all new road projects islandwide.
Holness, who was making his contribution to the 2023-2024 Budget Debate on the House of Representatives, said the trees will soften the impact of the infrastructure works, improve the aesthetics of the areas, increase biodiversity and contribute to the reduction of the “heat island effect”, particularly within urban spaces.
“So, for instance, along the corridors of East King’s House, Lady Musgrave and Arthur Wint Drive, they will plant and nurture over 3,000 new trees during and after the road widening exercise,” he noted.
“Along Highway 2000, they will begin this month, with the planting and nurturing of over 10,000 trees,” Holness added.
He indicated that he has further directed the Forestry Department to procure equipment, which will assist in relocating trees during the project development process.
Giving an update on the National Tree Planting Initiative, which has a target of three million trees, the prime minister said that, through the efforts of the Forestry Department and various stakeholders, more than 2.5 million trees have been planted nationally.
Turning to measures to protect the Rio Cobre River, Holness told the House that retired University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer, Dr Anthony Greenaway, will chair a technical working group that will examine all matters related to the use and health of the waterway’s basin.
This comes against the background of a chemical pollution incident last year, which adversely impacted the river’s health and the livelihoods of persons depending on the resource.
Holness said the practice of illegal aggregate mining in rivers is also of major concern to the Government.
Three key outcomes of the activities of the technical working group are a plan to cease all effluent discharge into the river; the development of a road map to provide legal protection of rivers under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act; and designing an early warning system.