Business development support to the forestry department of Jamaica

Field Trip 6

Known as the land of wood and water, forests are at the heart of the island of Jamaica. Around 40% of Jamaica is covered by forests, mainly in the central mountain ranges where they play a vital role as biodiversity reserves, protecting watersheds, preventing landslides, and enhancing the island’s climate resilience.

April 19, 2022
  • SDG: #8, #12, #13, #15
  • SECTORS: Development Consulting
  • DONOR: European Commission
  • CLIENT: Forestry Department of Jamaica
  • CONTRACT VALUE: €848 980
  • DURATION: 3 Years

The Forestry Department of Jamaica is a key player in the protection and conservation of these forests. Under the leadership of the CEO & Conservator of Forests, Mr. Ainsley Henry, the Agency manages around 25% of the forested areas in Jamaica, while the rest is managed by private landowners. Private forest land is not subject to the same legal protection status as public forest land and many land-owners choose to convert their forests to other more profitable land-uses such as mining, quarrying or agriculture. To prevent further forest loss and degradation, it will be essential to promote sustainable forestry as an economically viable business.

NIRAS is providing Technical Assistance to the Forestry Department under the EU budget support programme “Improved Forest Management for Jamaica” which aims to assist the Government of Jamaica to sustainably manage and use Jamaica’s forest resources to enhance social and economic development, and contribute to building the country’s climate resilience.

Forest Brochure Pic 2
Project management meeting at FD Head Office, Kingston in November 2021. Left to Right: Jerome Smith (Principal Director of Forest Operations, FD), Nichola Plowman (NIRAS PM), André Fache (EU Task Manager), Søren Dalsgaard (NIRAS Team Leader).

The work has been fun, interesting and constructive thanks to a great working relationship with our colleagues at Forestry Department and a continual dialogue to develop and deliver the support. We have listened and learned, so we can deliver a Business Model that meets the needs of the Agency and we look forward to supporting the first year of its implementation”

Mr Søren Dalsgaard, Team Leader

Forestry as an economically viable business in Jamaica

In recent years the focus of the Forestry Department has been on Forest Protection and Conservation, but they wish to evolve into an economically viable business enterprise. Through this project, NIRAS is supporting the Forestry Department to meet their goal of growing their annual revenue to $400 million JMD by developing a business model that balances the environmental, social and economic pillars of sustainability. The business model includes analysis and recommendations across all their potential revenue streams - wood Products, Nursery Products, Non-Timber Forest Products, Rentals, Recreation and Technical Services – and emphasises opportunities for increasing community engagement, reversing forest degradation, and catalysing private sector interest in forestry as a business.

A Sector-Wide Approach – Developing the Forest Sustainability Standard for Jamaica

The project is also supporting the development of a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Interim National Standard for responsible Forest Management in Jamaica. This standard is an important step towards making it possible for public and private forest owners to apply for FSC certification on their forest products. FSC certification can help Jamaican forest owners gain access to the export market, get higher prices for their goods, promoting economic growth and incentivising land-owners to adopt sustainable forestry as a business.

To promote further dialogue, the project will support the Forestry Department to host a National Forest Conference, bringing together public and private stakeholders, including investors and forest adjacent communities to identify synergies for sustainable forestry value chains. Developing a modern and thriving forestry sector will help to diversify the Jamaican economy, and reduce its reliance on tourism and bauxite mining.

Sowing In Paper Pots
Trial at Kingston Nursery sowing seeds in paper pots to improve root development and reduce plastic use.

National Tree Planting Initiative – 3 million trees in 3 years

The National Tree Planting Initiative, launched by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in October 2019, aims to plant one tree for every Jamaican on both private and public lands across the island.

The Forestry Department is spearheading the initiative by engaging with schools and the public and providing free technical advice and trees seedlings for planting. NIRAS experts have been supporting their Nursery staff to ramp up seedling production to deliver high quality ornamental and timber trees for the campaign, and meet the Government’s goal of planting three million trees in three years.

The work will also contribute to building the Forestry Department as a sustainable business entity – the project has included trials on the most effective and cost-efficient growing media, streamlining workflow, and conducting market research to benchmark prices and understand future demand for products. Special attention has also been paid to producing native hardwood species including Jamaican Mahogany and Blue Mahoe, as well as Bitterwood, an indigenous species of conservation and commercial importance, harvested for its bitter quassia resin, used globally in pharmaceuticals and the food and beverage industry.

“I really like working with the NIRAS team because they’re very adaptable and solution driven. Coming into this [project] we had a pandemic, things got shifted around, but they rose to the occasion. I want to thank them for their dynamism and continued hard work with helping us preserve the forest here in Jamaica”

Mr Jerome Smith, Principle Director, Forestry Department of Jamaica

Project Achievements to date

  • Successful trials on using locally sourced growing media (pine bark, coco peat and coffee husks)
  • Conducted market studies and analysis of the Forestry Departments nursery operation to inform the business model
  • Submitted draft interim National Standard for Jamaica to FSC for approval in March 2022
  • Business model developed and ready to be implemented from April 2022

Download the project brief for more information

Get in touch

Nichola Plowman

Nichola Plowman


Edinburgh, United Kingdom

+44 (0)131 440 5500