“No Fyah!” NEPA Announces a “No Open Burning” Order for Fire-Prone Areas

It is a little late to inform you about this particular event – but the message must go out, anyway. First thing tomorrow morning (Friday, February 16, 8:00 a.m.), in Papine Square, St. Andrew, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) will host an “Anti-burning Road Show,” in partnership with the Jamaica Fire Brigade, the Forestry Department, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP). Funding comes from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

What is this all about? Well, February 1 to October 31 has been stipulated a ‘no-open burning’ period under the newly gazetted Natural Resources Conservation (Environmental Protection Measures) Order (2016).

To raise awareness to the Order and curb Jamaican’s burning culture, NEPA and its partners will host a road show in fire hot spot communities throughout the year.

Uncontrolled fires have over the years contributed to loss of property, land degradation, deforestation, loss of livelihoods, biodiversity and water pollution.

The Order prohibits a number of activities which could start a fire in six of the island’s watershed management units (WMUs) which span all parishes except Hanover. There will be another Road Show in the Windsor Forest community, in Portland.

A bush fire threatens this house in Llandewey, western St. Thomas. This photo was taken in May, 2015. (Photo: Ian Allen/Gleaner)

Fire is a great danger to our forests. We only have to think back to three or four years ago (not long), when the bitter smell of smoke was in the air even in our Kingston yard, while patches of fire appeared in the hills above. While droughts come and go, the “slash and burn” method of clearing land is extremely dangerous at any time of year. So is burning garbage. It is also extremely harmful to one’s health (we have a high incidence of asthma in Jamaica) – and adds to greenhouse gas emissions. Often, fires are caused by sheer carelessness; sometimes they are caused deliberately. Our watersheds are especially precious.

For more information, please contact:

Patrice Gilpin; Communication Specialist, Integrated Management of the Yallahs and Hope River Watershed Management Areas Project. Tel: 754-7540; Cell Phone: 352-0190; Email: patrice.gilpin@nepa.gov.jm 

Rosemarie Lee; Manager, Public Education and Corporate Communication Branch Tel: (876)754-7540, ext. 2430; Fax: (876)754-7596 Email: rose.lee@nepa.gov.jm Website: www.nep.gov.jm

Thick smoke hanging over the hills of St. Mary, off the Junction Road, in July 2014. (My photo)


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