Protected Areas Policy and Legislation Being Finalised

Photo: Donald De La Haye Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz.

Story Highlights

  • The Government is finalising a Protected Areas Policy and overarching legislation for the management of protected areas as it ramps up efforts to preserve the country’s natural resources.
  • The disclosure was made by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry, Hon. Daryl Vaz, in a speech read by Senior Advisor, Locksley Smith, during a ceremony held at The Knutsford Court Hotel in St. Andrew on February 24, to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Blue and John Crow Mountains as a national park.
  • The Minister commended the team at the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT) that is responsible for the management of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, “for the sterling service they have given to preserving and conserving the national park and to raising awareness both here and abroad, about this important national treasure”.

The Government is finalising a Protected Areas Policy and overarching legislation for the management of protected areas as it ramps up efforts to preserve the country’s natural resources.

This is being undertaken by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, in partnership with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).

The disclosure was made by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry, Hon. Daryl Vaz, in a speech read by Senior Advisor, Locksley Smith, during a ceremony held at The Knutsford Court Hotel in St. Andrew on February 24, to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Blue and John Crow Mountains as a national park.

Mr. Vaz noted that safeguarding the country’s natural resources, particularly protected areas, remains a top priority of the Government.

Jamaica’s policy framework for the national system of protected areas defines a protected area as land or water that is managed for the protection and maintenance of its ecological systems, biodiversity and/or specific natural, cultural or aesthetic resources.

Minister Vaz informed that the Protected Areas System Master Plan, which will provide a structured framework within which protected areas will be managed, was approved by Cabinet and tabled in Parliament in February 2016.

The Master Plan will address public awareness, legislation, culture and heritage, institutional arrangements, financial sustainability, and biodiversity conservation. It will be implemented by the key agencies mandated for protected areas, including the Forestry Department and NEPA.

“At the sector level, we have just completed the draft of the National Forest Management and Conservation Plan (2016-2026), which is currently being discussed with the public across Jamaica,” Mr. Vaz noted further.

In addition to the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, Jamaica has three marine parks and more than 200 protected areas, which include forest reserves and fish sanctuaries.

The Minister commended the team at the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT) that is responsible for the management of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, “for the sterling service they have given to preserving and conserving the national park and to raising awareness both here and abroad, about this important national treasure”.

Covering an area of 101,313 acres in Eastern Jamaica, the Blue and John Crow Mountains was designated as a national park on February 26, 1993.

The area is one of the richest natural sites in the Americas and is home to several unique wonders such as the six-inch Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, which is the largest butterfly in the western hemisphere.

The Blue and John Crow Mountains sustain more than 200 species of endemic and migratory birds and more than 1,000 flowering plants. High rainfall in the national park feeds 10 major watersheds – supplying 40 per cent of Jamaica’s fresh water.

The area was inscribed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Prestigious World Heritage List in 2015, and is the first such mixed (cultural and natural) site for the Caribbean.

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