Summary Report on the Assessment of JCDT's Implementation of the BJCMNP Management Plan 2005 – 2009
Generally, management of the BJCMNP by the JCDT has been very good in terms of following the guidance of the 2005 – 2010 Management Plan and achievement of its objectives. Inadequate funding and challenges related to the timing of funding as well as other factors such as conflicting policies and practices e.g. between agriculture, land tenure and conservation, have had a negative impact on the achievement of targets and objectives. Despite this, Park management through its programmes, has addressed all of the root causes of threats to the Park's well-being, and has achieved most of its annual targets and the objectives set in the 2005 – 2010 Plan.
The over-arching goal of BJCMNP management is, "to maintain and enhance the remaining area of closed broadleaf forest and component species of plants and animals that exist in the BJCMNP" and based on evidence from several sources, this goal has been achieved. The main sources are: the Park's Monitoring and Evaluation Programme, Chai's research (Chai et al, 2009) and Forestry Department's comparison of aerial photographs from 2009 with satellite imagery from 2000.
The implementation of all the Park's management programmes and achievement of programme objectives and annual targets together, have contributed to achievement of management success. Notwithstanding a remarkable level of success, considering the obstacles to management of the BJCMNP, there is still much more to be done to improve and increase the impact of the programmes and to sustain their implementation into the future. As Chai et al. (2009) indicate, although there has been a net decrease in deforestation since gazetting of the national park, forest clearance continues in the BJCMNP. There is therefore a critical need for secure, long-term funding of: enforcement to stop forest clearing for agriculture, improved boundary demarcation and direct benefits for community members to promote more sustainable agricultural practices outside the Park boundary (Bruner et al., 2001, Chai et al., 2009).
The goal of the BJCMNP Conservation Programme is the same as the Park's over-arching goal, indicating the conservation focus of the National Park, "to maintain and enhance the remaining area of closed broadleaf forest and component species of plants and animals that exist in the BJCMNP". This goal was achieved as the targeted area was maintained (according to Forestry Department data) and enhanced (through forest rehabilitation). In addition, there is evidence from the Park's Monitoring and Evaluation Programme, that species populations of plants and animals have remained stable or even increased. Further, the use of native species and eradication of alien invasive plant species has increased the biodiversity in targeted areas of the Park.
Key achievements for 2005 – 2009 were:
- A total of 42.3 Hectares (105.75 acres) was rehabilitated by JCDT within the Park boundary: 15.8 Hectares (39.5 acres) controlled of invasive species (Wild Coffee – Pittosporum undulatum and Wild Ginger – Hedychium species) and 26.5 Hectares (66.25 acres) reforested with native, non-lumber species grown in the BJCMNP nurseries.
- At Holywell and Hagley Gap nurseries, over 18,000 native seedlings were propagated over the 5 year period and used mainly for forest rehabilitation projects. Species now regularly produced are:- Dovewood (Alchornea latifolia), Milkwood (Sapium harrisii), Soapwood (Clethra occidentalis), Blue Mountain Yacca (Podocarpus urbanii), Blue Mahoe (Hibiscus elatus) & West Indian Cedar (Cedrela odorata).
- In the Community Buffer Zone:-
- Over 5.6ha planted and maintained by the Bowden Pen Farmers Association in the Upper Rio Grande Valley (in the Community Buffer Zone)
- Over 3ha planted by other community based organisations and farmers.
- Over 100 Water Mahoe seedlings were propagated and planted by the Bowden Pen Farmers Association (BPFA) to help improve and increase habitat for the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly.
Enforcement and Compliance Programme
The BJCMNP Enforcement and Compliance Programme 2005 – 2010 goal was, "to stop encroachment of the park boundary and destruction of forest and wildlife within". This goal was only partially achieved, with numerous critical steps being taken to reduce encroachment of the Park boundary and destruction of the forest and wildlife within. In particular the Ranger Corps, which had declined in numbers and enforcement activity between 2000 and 2004, was significantly improved between 2005 and 2009, in terms of numbers (moving from 4 to 7) and patrols (with a 132% increase in the number of patrols).
Education and Public Involvement Programme
The goal for the BJCMNP Education and Public Involvement Programme according to the 2005 – 2010 Management Plan was "to raise public support for the park and improve natural resources management, particularly in buffer zone communities, leading to conservation of the park's ecosystems and poverty alleviation". This goal was achieved, though the work of this programme is on-going and activities must be maintained long-term and eventually expanded to other communities and target groups, if greater impact is to be seen.
A major focus was the building of community capacity for natural resources management and sustainable livelihoods in over 8 communities working with over 4 CBOs and numerous individuals.
- Over 125 community members including about 60 unemployed youth were trained in sustainable tourism with 18 going on to employment, often related to Park management e.g. as Park Rangers or establishing a business at Holywell.
- Over 75 community members received significant training in sustainable agriculture with soil conservation and agro-forestry projects implemented in 3 communities.
- Community awareness was raised with over 400 persons attending over 30 meetings on various Park-related issues
- The number of buffer zone community schools visited annually, with presentations about the BJCMNP increased from 23 to 37 with assistance from trained community youth.
- Delivery of educational packages at Holywell increased from 7 schools with about 500 students to 41 schools with over 2,500 students. Trained community youth assist with these activities.
Recreation and Tourism Programme
The BJCMNP Recreation and Tourism Goal was achieved although all the objectives were not completely realised. The goal aimed for the provision of recreational opportunities for local and international visitors, using ecotourism principles, and this was achieved (with improvements over the period) at the Park's two main recreational areas – Holywell and Portland Gap/Blue Mountain Peak Trail.
Further, community-based organisations such as the Bowden Pen Farmers Association and Charles Town Maroon Council were assisted in improving and expanding the opportunities available within their communities, thus broadening the type of experiences available to visitors.
Income was generated for the Park, and the amount increased by 98% (between the two main areas) over the five year period. Whilst still not in a position to support a full-time supervisor, the BJCMNP Recreation and Tourism Programme is finally making a profit.
The ecotourism approach used, in particular with respect to facilitating benefits to local communities, resulted in increased community support for the Park, as reflected in volunteerism and interest shown by community members in Park activities and events. Of special note, was the training of youth from around Holywell to assist with educational packages, allowing the youth to generate some income for themselves whilst helping the Park. Visitors, to Holywell in particular, showed interest and several made cash donations or provided other forms of support to Park management.
Monitoring and Evaluation Programme
The goal of the BJCMNP Monitoring and Evaluation Programme was, "to track and record both the threats and the changes to ecosystem health, so that it is possible to assess whether or not the Park is achieving its over-arching conservation goal". This goal was achieved, as several programmes were developed, implemented and improved, to track and record threats and data related to ecosystem health, which can then be used to assess the condition and status of the Park and therefore evaluate success in achieving conservation of the site's biodiversity. These included threats monitoring, bird and freshwater monitoring programmes. All these programmes are GIS based.
Governance and Administration Programme
The achievement or partial achievement of the majority of the Park's 2005 – 2010 Programme goals and objectives is an indication that the Governance and Administration Programme goal was achieved. This was, "to provide efficient, effective and sustained management that will allow the Park to meet its over-arching and other goals". Further, the securing of funding beyond the five year period under review, indicates that the sustainability component of the Programme goal was also achieved. However, the level of achievement is of concern, as it was only at the lowest level, in terms of the amount of funds raised, the timing of fund disbursement and the lack of security of funding, even from the Government of Jamaica.
Inadequate funding and untimely disbursement for all aspects of Park management, but particularly administration and general over-sight management, was the main hindrance to effective Park management.