LOCALS AND visitors will have the opportunity this weekend to experience first-hand the beauty of Jamaica’s forests while deepening their appreciation of the ecosystem benefits of these essential natural resources.
This is made possible with the 12th edition of Forest Trek, scheduled for Saturday 25th June and featuring a 12 kilometer trek through sections of the Orchard Forest Reserve in North East St Andrew. The hike will start at the Mavis Bank Coffee Factory and end at Guava Ridge, with a “transport included” option offered to participants.
According to the Forestry Department, which organizes the hike, people who choose the transport-inclusive option will be transported by bus to and from the start and end points of the day.
“Participants will meet the buses at the meeting point (TBC) in Papine, St Andrew, where parking is provided free of charge. All hikers must gather at the checkpoint located in the parking lot at 5:30 am. At the checkpoint, participants will be loaded onto buses and sent to Mavis Bank for the start of the hike,” the department explained via its website.
The hike will allow participants to enjoy picturesque views of natural forest and plantations of Pinuscaribaea (Pine), Eucalyptus globulus (Eucalyptus) and Hibiscus elatus (Blue Mahoe).
“At Governor’s Bench and Mount Rosanna, located at an elevation of 4,000 feet, hikers will have panoramic views of Yallahs, St Thomas, as well as Kingston and Port Royal. Along the trail (after about 3 miles), hikers will hikers will be able to stop to plant trees on a denuded part of the forest reserve”, boasts the Forestry Department.
“After the 12 kilometer walk through the forest, the hikers will have their lunch and then board the bus for the return trip to Papine. People who traveled to the event will be able to pick up their vehicles at this location,” the ministry added.
Orchard Forest Reserve comprises a mixture of forest types, including patches of natural forest and plantations of pine, eucalyptus and blue mahoe. Some 148.2 hectares of land, which is now known as the Orchard Forest Reserve, was transferred to the Forest Department in the late 1980s for management.
“Data from a 2015 biophysical inventory conducted by the Forest Department indicated the presence of at least 83 plant species in the area. Unfortunately, the forest reserve is frequently affected by fires and is still recovering from a fire that occurred in 2015 and affected 95% of the forest reserve,” the department noted.
Meanwhile, with the brunt of the climate threat facing countries including Jamaica and others in the Caribbean, planting and preserving forests has never been more important.
“They fight climate change because of their ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it, which is called forest mitigation. This prevention and reduction of emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which prevents the planet from warming to more extreme temperatures, is also called climate change mitigation,” noted the United Nations Climate Change Programme. Environment (UNEP) in an article dealing with the subject.
Also according to UNEP, forests, which cover a third of the land mass, support the livelihoods of some 1.6 billion people worldwide, also serve as a buffer against the impacts of storms and floods to which the Caribbean is subjected. particularly vulnerable with the progression of climate change.
“By feeding our rivers, forests supply drinking water to nearly half of the largest cities in the world. They also provide shelter, jobs and security to forest-dependent people,” UNEP added in the article titled Why are forests important?
It is in this context that UNEP itself has promoted the “practice of planting and maintaining forest areas” towards, among other things, eliminating emissions from deforestation and increasing carbon removals which contribute to fueling global warming.
“It is clear that forests play an important role in climate action, which are all efforts to mitigate the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms. tropical cyclones, exacerbating water management problems, reducing agricultural production and food security, increasing health risks, damaging critical infrastructure and interrupting the provision of basic services, such as water and electricity sanitation, education, energy and transport,” the article notes.