Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Social Entrepreneurship
by Adrian Watson
Giant Swallow Tail ButterFly
Jamaica is a very well-known area, internationally as a "biodiversity hotspot" because many of the island’s species are endemic to the island– meaning they are found nowhere else in the world.
Jamaica is ranked 5th in the world in terms of endemic plants, and boasts a very impressive list of spectacular animal species that are also found nowhere else on the planet.
Jamaica needs to undertake the saving the island’s rich collection of unique plant and animal species, and the natural habitats that support them.
Future generations should be left with a healthy environment that contains all the ingredients for proper ecosystem functions.
We owe it to our children to leave them with all the species that still exist.
We must leave them with a Jamaica that can still provide the ecosystem services that all life relies on – for example, clean air, water and land.
But the threat of climate change is compounding the environmental threats that are already faced by the islands.
Greening the Economy
The Caribbean group of nations has gone on to look at greening the economy and increase biodiversity to become more resilient to climate change in an attempt to adapt.
Much like other Small Island developing states we stand to face the brunt of the effects of climate change such as sea level rise , increase in temperatures, higher intense storms just to name a few.
The Caribbean is already experiencing a one degree warming. The ecosystem is already experience longer droughts in Jamaica and short more intense wet seasons.
The farmers within Jamaica are reeling from these effects of longer droughts and shorter wet seasons to the extent that even the ecosystem services that the farmer benefited from are being disturbed. There are more frequent pest problems affecting our farmers here in Jamaica.
Case in point is the High incidence of Beet army worm infestation in 2013 that was are being associated with the rising temperatures and extended drought period Jamaica experienced in the same year.
There were also very severely low water level supplies to the cities and urban areas especially on the south coast.
Dangers Posed by Rising Sea Levels
Jamaica's cities and infrastructure are predominantly along the coastlines and are at risk. If Sea levels continue to rise and flood our cities we will be forced to move back from the coast cutting back into our forestry thereby decreasing the natural forestry.
Jamaica urban centers are also faced with pest problems associated with climate change such as increase in mosquito populations which increase the spread of diseases.
One case in point in the Chikungunya Virus in 2014 went through the islands population of 90% of 2.9 million people in a matter of weeks.
The fact is Smalls Islands like Jamaica needs aid to help themselves build the capacity to adapt and cope along with mitigation efforts to be more resilient.
The Solutions are Clear
Developed countries need to cut their emissions, in collaboration with helping SIDs to do the same and rebuild ecosystems in a sustainable way.
Social and Eco-Friendly Enterprises are the way to go. This is because they follow the triple bottom line approach- Financial, Social and environment.
These enterprises reduce, reuse, and recycle as well as re-establishment eco-system and ecosystem services. Example of this type of businesses would be beekeeping industries in Jamaica active conserves bees that are dying off around the world due to pesticides and climate related degradation of the environment such as the logging of trees.
Beekeepers will actively go in and put in trees in the surrounding areas which is a way of reforesting the local to sequester carbon and re-establish habitats for endanger and endemic species and well as limit flooding in cities. Organic farming has the potential to the same thing in both rural and urban spaces.
Organic farms are great as well. In effect, there needs to be more support in the area of grant funding to give these persons startup capital in SIDS to do these kinds of work especially as we have the least land mass compounded by the fact that we are the first to face the repercussion of the environmental response to climate change.