US group provides J$2.4m to support conservation efforts in Blue and John Crow Mountains
Blue Mountain Range. (Photo: David Walters, Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust)

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The US Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) is providing approximately J$2.4 million in grant funding to the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust to monitor and conserve Jamaica’s unique species in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.

This project, which is expected to run through April 2024, aims to increase understanding of ecosystem health, contributing to Jamaica’s biodiversity conservation efforts and strategies.

The Blue and John Crow Mountains form two of the largest key biodiversity areas in the Caribbean, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. This project builds on current efforts to protect the endemic biodiversity of this Jamaican national park and support the health of its ecosystem.

The unique Tropical Cloud Forest provides important ecosystem benefits to the people of Jamaica. It is also home to one of the largest bird migratory sites in the Caribbean, the only place on the island where all Jamaica’s unique birds can be observed, including the endangered Jamaican Blackbird and the Doctor Bird, the country’s national symbol.

US Government funding will enhance capacity to monitor conservation targets (birds, freshwater ecosystems, Jamaican Hutia, and others), along with ecosystem impacts and populations of threatened species that are endemic in Jamaica. Project results will also inform ongoing conservation efforts and policy development on protected areas.

Specifically, funding will support training for National Park rangers and volunteers on bird monitoring techniques using GPS trackers and freshwater data collection, data analysis and results dissemination to government and community stakeholders.

Beneficiaries will include conservation groups, policy makers, the local Maroon Indigenous population, banana, and coffee producers who depend on this ecosystem for their livelihoods, and nearby Kingston residents who rely heavily on the clean water supply from the mountains.

US Ambassador, Nick Perry, said “Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains are a priceless part of the island’s landscape. These monitoring and conservation efforts will help preserve their unique biodiversity for years to come and support local communities relying on the health of this ecosystem. Given the impact of climate change on nature and the USG’s broader commitment to support climate adaptation in developing countries, we are proud to contribute to Jamaica’s efforts on biodiversity conservation in protected areas.”

Dr Susan Otuokon, executive director of the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust added, “we are excited to improve our capacity to conserve the national treasure that is the Blue and John Crow Mountains. We are grateful for the assistance and partnership as we strive to better understand ecosystem health. This is critical in the context of increasing human threats, including climate change.”

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