Forestry as a business takes centre stage at upcoming conference Loop Jamaica

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CEO and Conservator of Forests, Ainsley Henry.

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The business of forestry will take centre stage on December 7 to 8, 2022, when foresters, public and private sector investors, representatives of academia, civil society, Local Forest Management Committees (LFMCs) and other key players in the local forestry sector meet at the inaugural National Forestry Conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown, Kingston. Part of a European Union (EU) – funded project to support productivity, growth and sustainability in the forest sector of Jamaica, the conference aims to identify opportunities for increasing the economic benefits of forests without compromising their social and environmental benefits.

EU Ambassador to Jamaica Marianne Van Steen.

EU Ambassador to Jamaica Marianne Van Steen welcomes the opportunity the conference provides for engagement on the challenges and potential that rest within the forest sector.

“With climate change being such a major threat, effective management of precious forest reserves is key for sustainable development,” she said. “Striking a balance between forest conservation and harnessing the economic potential of the forests is critical for Small Island Developing States like Jamaica. I am pleased that this conference will provide a space for meaningful dialogue on how both can be reconciled,” the ambassador added. The CEO and Conservator of Forests, Ainsley Henry, is also pleased about the inaugural staging and encourages all players to attend. “The National Forestry Conference represents a critical first step in the Forestry Department’s efforts to energise and ignite the growth and development of the local forestry sector. We have so much potential, and the conference’s focus is designed to help us get there. The conference is also intended to start the process of bringing improved structure and greater efficiency to the sector so that we can not only accurately enumerate its contribution to national growth and development, but also stimulate it, he said. The National Forestry Conference will explore a range of critical topics such as “Unlocking the Forestry Value Chain”, which will delve into local timber production and related issues such as conversion efficiency, pricing and certification. The vast untapped forest recreation potential will also be explored, building on existing and seeking to maximise the tourism potential of the Blue Mountain forest reserve. Another thematic area to be examined is forests and food security as it relates to the potential for agroforestry as a path to import substitution in Jamaica. Over the two days, several sectoral sessions will discuss and identify challenges, solutions and future opportunities for forestry business development.

The conference will also include an exhibition aims to showcase products and services currently being generated within the sector and highlight the support services that enable the sector.

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