JIS News

Minister of Information, Culture, Youth, and Sports, Olivia Grange, along with executives of the Jamaica Conservation Development Trust (JCDT), have signed documents to facilitate the declaration of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park as a World Heritage Site, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The signing took place during the weekly post-Cabinet media briefing on Wednesday (Jan. 21) at Jamaica House.
Addressing journalists, Ms. Grange said the signing was in keeping with the Government’s mandate to develop the country’s heritage tourism sector.
“This…is an indication of the Government’s commitment to preserving and protecting our heritage, both natural and cultural,” she stated.
The Minister informed that the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park will be the first of several sites that will be nominated, with the others being Spanish Town, Port Royal, and the Seville Heritage Park in St. Ann.
She noted the input of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) in the process. “I (am)…pleased to advise that the Trust, as recent as this month, sent to the World Heritage Committee, an application for Port Royal and the Seville Heritage Park, to be placed on the tentative list,” she informed.
Chairman of the JCDT, Robert Stephens, who also addressed the briefing, informed that in 2004, the organisation, in developing its 2005-09 strategic plan, committed to having the National Park nominated for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This, he explained, was out of recognition of the outstanding universal value of the site for both cultural and natural heritage, as well as the benefits to be derived from being inscribed on the World Heritage list.
He said the Trust was collaborating with other agencies, and had received funding from the Italian government and the World Heritage Fund. “We are anticipating that the Blue and John Crow Mountains will be announced as Jamaica’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site and we are already preparing for this status, by reviewing and improving the management of the property, and planning for the development of sustainable tourism in and around the property,” Mr. Stephens informed.
The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park was established in 1993 through the Natural Resources Conservation (Blue and John Crow Mountains) Protected Area Order.
Located in the eastern end of the island, the National Park is the largest contiguous area of natural forest in Jamaica, protecting 193 acres of forest on mountain slopes, comprising 10 watershed management units spanning four parishes.
The area is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, being home to the Maroons, whose traditions were recognised by UNESCO as masterpieces of world culture. In 2006, the park was nominated to the tentative list of World Heritage Sites, a precursor to being inscribed.
The UNESCO World Heritage List is a prestigious compilation of natural and cultural sites, chosen by the World Heritage Committee to be of outstanding universal value. Such a site should have significant and unique attributes that position it for world class recognition. As at October 2008, there were 878 sites across the world on the list.

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