Tierramérica reports that Negril, one of Jamaica’s main tourism centres, is at risk of losing its renowned beaches to environment degradation.
[T]he demise of the Negril environment has again been brought into sharp focus, this time by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Division of Early Warning and Assessment.
Expert Pascal Peduzzi, who heads the Early Warning Unit, predicted in March that several beaches on the western end of Jamaica could be totally wiped out in the next five to 10 years if local authorities and residents do not act now.
His prediction is based on data coming out of a UNEP study on the role of the ecosystem in disaster risk reduction.
“The data has found that beaches in Negril are receding between half and one meter per year,” said Peduzzi. The scientific evidence shows that over the past 40 years Negril’s beaches have undergone severe and irreversible shoreline erosion and retreat, according to the study entitled “Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Methodology Development Project (RiVAMP): The Case of Jamaica.”
RiVAMP is an intiative formulated by the UNEP Divison of Early Warning and Assessment; the objective being:
to use evidence- based, scientific and qualitative research to demonstrate the role of ecosystems in disaster risk reduction, and thus enable policymakers to make better-informed decisions that support sustainable development through improved ecosystems management.
Jamaica was the first RiVAMP pilot country, and Negril was the first RiVAMP pilot area.
Jamaica was selected as the first country for the RiVAMP pilot for several reasons, including: its high vulnerability to tropical cyclones and sea level rise; diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity which are under pressure as a result of population growth, economic development and a strong international tourism industry; high-level government commitment to hazard mitigation and climate change adaptation; and strong partners through the University of the West Indies and UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) based in Kingston, Jamaica.
Following a consultative process at the national- level, Negril located in the western end of the country was chosen as the study area for the pilot assessment. Like many coastal areas around Jamaica, Negril’s natural environment is under threat from growing urban and touristic development. The results of the pilot assessment are thus applicable to other coastal, particularly tourism-dependent areas in Jamaica.
[Photo: Quenby Swinson-Mitchell]