THE Department of State's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affair in the United States is providing approximately $2.4 million in grant funding to the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT) to monitor and conserve Jamaica's unique species in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
This project aims to increase understanding of ecosystem health while 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 and are inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
This project builds on current efforts to protect the endemic biodiversity of this Jamaican national park and supports 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 and is 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 cherished national symbol.
US Government funding will enhance the capacity to monitor conservation targets (birds, freshwater ecosystems, Jamaican Hutia and others), along with ecosystem impact 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 the national park rangers and volunteers in bird monitoring techniques using GPS trackers, and freshwater data collection, data analysis and results dissemination to government and community stakeholders.
The project is expected to run through to April 2024. Beneficiaries will include conservation groups; policymakers; 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 to Jamaica 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 US Government'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."
In welcoming the grant, Dr Susan Otuokon, JCDT executive director, 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."