LOCATED IN THE Caribbean, the Republic of Jamaica has a land area of 4,244 sq. mi. (10,990 sq. km.), with a population of 2,714,000 (2006 est.). It has a population density of 626 people per sq. mi. (241 people per sq. km.), making it the 49th most densely populated country in the world, with more than a third of the population living in Kingston, the country's capital. Fourteen percent of the land is arable, with a further 24 percent used for meadows and pasture. Although 27 percent of the country is still forested, the deforestation rate, 5 percent per year, is the highest of any country in the world. This is threatening wildlife diversity and contributing to ecological problems, not just in Jamaica, but also in the region, as there has been a rise in the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita in Jamaica. Emissions were 3.4 metric tons per person in 1990, rising to 4.1 metric tons per person by 1997, and falling only slightly since then. Jamaica is 86th in the world in terms of its per capita CO2emissions.
Affected regularly by hurricanes in the Caribbean, the rising sea levels are less of a problem for Jamaica than many other Caribbean islands, but the rising temperature levels in the seas have already caused some problems with the bleaching of some coral reefs. There is also a threat to the entire coral reef system and its related marine life along the north coast of Jamaica. To highlight the problem, the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society operates to encourage responsible diving, which has added to the problems caused by global warming. The threat is also to the green, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles that nest on beaches in Jamaica, and also the West Indian manatees that can still be found on the south coast. The threat to marine life and land animals means that Jamaica is in the top 10 countries in the world in number of endangered amphibians and plant species.
To try to combat the factors that influence global warming and climate change, the Jamaican government maintains a comprehensive public transport system. Despite being in the tropics, some parts of Jamaica receive little rainfall. The town of Lucea in western Jamaica suffers from periodic droughts. The Jamaica Environment Trust (J.E.T.) has encouraged the replanting of trees, with help from the forestry department. The Jamaican government of Percival Patterson took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and two years later Jamaica was represented at the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States held in Barbados. On June 28, 1999, the Jamaican government accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; it took effect on February 16, 2005.
SEE ALSo: Afforestation; Drought; Hurricanes and Typhoons; Tourism.
BIBLIoGRAPHY. Gareth David, "Boys' Home Goes Green-Two Hundred Trees Planted for Environment Day," Jamaica Gleaner (June 8, 2007); Environment News Service, "Vulnerable Caribbean Nations Prepare for Global Warming," www.ens-newswire.com (cited September 2007); Francine Jacome, "The Political Ecology of Sun and Sand—Paradise Sold, Paradise Lost: Jamaica's Environment and Culture in the Tourism Marketplace," Beyond Sun and Sand: Caribbean Environmentalisms (Rutgers University Press, 2006); R.J. Kent, "History and Necessity: The Evolution of Soil Conservation Technology in a Jamaican Farming System," Geographical Journal (v.168/1, 2002); Clifford Mahlung, Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Global Climate Change (National Meteorological Service, 2001); B.A.B. Spence, "Spatio-Evolutionary Model of Jamaican Small Farming," Geographical Journal (v.165/3, 1999).
JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia
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