Support of Jamaicans in UK Sought for Portland Bight Protected Area


The Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) is seeking the support of United Kingdom (UK) based Jamaicans to preserve the Portland Bight protected area in southern Jamaica.
Executive Director of C-CAM, Reverend Peter Espeut and Science Officer, Brandon Haye were in London recently for meetings with community groups and environmental agencies to drum up interest in the Portland Bight area, and C-CAM’s plans to capitalise its Trust Fund for long term financing of the project.
Portland Bight spans some 724 square miles of both marine and land space of the south coast parishes of St. Catherine and Clarendon and is the largest protected area in Jamaica. The area is home to a rich variety of wetlands, corals, dry limestone forest, rivers and sea grass beds. Most of the plants and animals found in Portland Bight are unique to Jamaica and found only in this area.
The area includes four tropical dry limestone forests, the largest continuous growth of mangroves, and 25 per cent of the island’s fishermen.
Rev. Espeut said the recurrent cost to manage the area was some US$1 million. He said C-CAM’s mission was not just conservation but that the organization was also committed to human development and improving the quality of life of the people in the area.
He said that Management Councils, involving the local communities and all stakeholders, would be involved in the management of the protected area. These Councils include the Fisheries Management Council, the Citizens Council, the Tourism Council, and the Enforcement, Watershed Management, Industrial and Sustainable Development Council.
Rev. Espeut explained that the management objectives of Portland Bight were very simple – clean land, water and air; sustainable use of the natural resources; improved quality of life for the residents; conservation of species and ecosystems; community involvement; community environmental education; and financial sustainability.
According to Rev. Espeut, sustainable tourism was a key part in the process to make the Portland Bight area financially viable.
“This would diversify the local economy and reduce poverty,” he told a meeting held at the Jamaican High Commission in London.
He pointed out that the type of tourism being looked at for the area was community tourism that would include five beach parks, nature and heritage tours organized by and benefiting members of the community, as well as bed and breakfast accommodation.
“In Portland Bight, there is a lot of environment worth protecting, and there is a lot of people worth protecting,” Rev. Espeut said.

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