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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is safeguarding the future of Jamaica’s endemic species through agreements with foreign researchers.
  • Between 2016 and 2017, NEPA experienced a 55 per cent increase in the number of applications for Wildlife Research Permission.

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is safeguarding the future of Jamaica’s endemic species through agreements with foreign researchers.

Between 2016 and 2017, NEPA experienced a 55 per cent increase in the number of applications for Wildlife Research Permission.

Senior Manager for the Conservation and Protection Subdivision at NEPA, Yvette Strong, tells JIS News that while more local tertiary institutions are applying for research permission, most of the applications NEPA receives are from overseas researchers, and Jamaica stands to gain from both groups.

“The researchers provide us with an interim and a final report on their fieldwork, and then they provide us with copies of their publications. They are also mandated to send copies of these to the Fisheries Division and the Forestry Department, if the research was done in a special fishery conservation area or a forest reserve,” Ms. Strong notes.

Jamaica benefits not just from the findings of the research but also through the mandatory agreements surrounding research of Jamaica’s wildlife, such as the Breeding Loan Agreement.

This agreement is entered into between NEPA and researchers who take live specimen out of the island. It states that all offspring of specimen taken outside of the country for research in foreign institutions will be the property of Jamaica.

“We regard those animals (both offspring and parent stock) in foreign institutions as offshore satellite population, so that if there is a disaster or anything goes wrong here in Jamaica, we can call upon those institutions to send us breeding stock,” Ms. Strong explains.

The Jamaican Iguana and varieties of hummingbirds are among the animals that remain the property of Jamaica in foreign countries.

“We only have a Jamaican Iguana population in Hellshire Hills [but the animal can also be found] at the Fort Worth and San Diego zoos, among others in the United States,” she reveals.

The iguanas are kept as part of the zoos’ support for species conservation. Both Jamaican Iguanas and hummingbirds, including the Doctor Bird, which is indigenous to Jamaica, have been successfully bred in captivity in the United States of America.

NEPA invites all local and international researchers interested in studying the country’s biodiversity to contact the Development Assistance Centre and Application Secretariat at the agency at 876-906-8354 and 876-929-9148, or through its website, www.nepa.gov.jm.