First Look

A new twist to the Goat Islands debate



| 2014-06-24 00:00:00

Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) announced that Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF) has started work on a cost effectiveness comparison of the proposed construction of a transshipment port and logistics hub at the Goat Islands in the Portland Bight Protected Area, Jamaica.

“The proposal by China Harbour Engineering Company to develop a port in this area is very controversial; seemingly pitting environmentalists against economic development,” noted Ingrid Parchment, Executive Director of C-CAM - the main environmental NGO working in the Portland Bight Protected Area. “C-CAM is concerned that there has been a lot of discussion on this issue but very few facts  have been presented. That’s why we have contracted the CSF to carry out an independent study,” she explained. “CSF is an internationally-recognized organization that has worked on similar large infrastructure projects around the world,” she noted, “They will compare the economic and environmental costs of the development at Goat Islands with two other sites. This should place the debate on a more rational footing.”

“We recognise that Jamaica’s economy is in a very critical state and new investments are urgently needed,” said John Reid, CEO of CSF, “That makes it even more important that Jamaica should not make any mistakes as it pursues major developments, such as the proposed port. Most people recognize the global importance of the biodiversity of the Portland Bight Protected Area. What they want to know is whether any sacrifices will be necessary or worth it. Our job is to provide the best available data so that Jamaica can make an informed decision about this development. We have done similar work elsewhere, including helping the government of Panama to choose the best option for widening the canal.”

The CSF study will be completed by September 2014. It will include assessment of the three potential sites for the port and hub, comparison of the differences in costs, modeling of the impacts, valuation of the ecological costs and consultations with stakeholders. Funding for this study is being provided by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund.

CSF’s work will bring a new perspective to the highly controversial debate. “This is not about iguanas versus development,” said Ingrid Parchment, “It is about sustainability, survival and the legacy we want to leave for our children.”

 

 




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