The Black River landscape/seascape in St. Elizabeth is to be designated a protected area.

This follows Cabinet’s approval of the designation, which is to be made under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act, 1991.

Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Fayval Williams, who made the announcement during a virtual post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday, April 14, informed that Cabinet also approved the issuance of drafting instructions to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel for the preparation of the Order designating the Black River Protected Area.

“The designation of the proposed Black River Protected Area is intended to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the area, including the swamp forest, mangroves, beaches, seagrass beds, and coral reefs, which provides habitats for wildlife and support sustainable livelihoods,” Williams said.

She pointed out that by designating the Black River Protected Area, Jamaica would meet some of its national and international commitments with respect to the protection of inland water, marine and terrestrial ecosystems and heritage sites.

At present, 15 percent of marine and 18 percent of terrestrial ecosystems within the jurisdiction are protected under law.

In the meantime, Minister Williams informed that Cabinet gave approval for the sale of a 457-acre property owned by the National Insurance Fund (NIF) and located at Llandovery, Salem in St. Ann to the National Housing Trust (NHT) in the sum of $1.8 billion.

“Over the last four years, the NIF has sought to dispose of the property as part of its thrust to realign the real estate portfolio and dispose of underperforming, non-income generating assets. The NHT expressed interest in acquiring the property…to develop approximately 2,000 housing solutions, with the target market being hotel workers,” she said.