Blue & John Crow Mountains

Management

BJCMNP Management Programmes

The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is managed for conservation of biological diversity and associated cultural heritage, conservation of ecosystem services such as water supply and for its recreational values. Hence under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Protected Area Categories, it is a Category II site. Management is guided by a six year management plan prepared by the site’s manager, the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT) using a participatory process and approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA). The management plan follows national and international recommendations with respect to the information included and the programmes implemented.

The first Management Plan for the BJCMNP was prepared in 1993 when the National Park was first designated. The current Management Plan is for the period 2011 – 2016 and is based on an evaluation of the 2005 – 2010 Plan. In general, programme goals remain the same with specific objectives being set every five years to aid in achieving the longer term goals and over-arching goal, mission and vision for the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.

Currently, there are seven management programmes each with its own goal and objectives and strategies aimed at addressing the root causes of the threats impacting the values of the National Park.

Programmes & Strategies Root Causes of Threats Addressed
Natural Heritage Conservation
e.g. Invasive Species Control
Insufficient “Conservation on the Ground” – need to more actively protect nature
Climate Change
Cultural Heritage Preservation
e.g. Inventory of Sites and artefacts, promoting cultural heritagea
Inadequate Cultural Heritage Preservation
Limited Environmentally Sustainable Income-Generating Activities
Enforcement & Compliance
e.g. patrols, interpretive enforcement, signs
Inadequate Enforcement
Unclear Boundaries
Education & Public Involvement
e.g. skills training for local community members, school presentations
Insufficient Environmental Education
Limited Environmentally Sustainable Income-Generating Activities
Recreation & Tourism
e.g. operating Holywell and the Peak Trail/ Portland Gap; facilitating sustainable community tourism around the Park
Inadequate Resources & Management
Limited Environmentally Sustainable Income-Generating Activities
Monitoring & Evaluation
e.g. stream and photo-monitoring
Inadequate Resources & Management – need to assess and improve management effectiveness
Governance & Administration
e.g. Advisory and Co-management Committees; fundraising and financial management
Inadequate Resources & Management
Conflicting Policies between agencies and insufficient support of conservation initiatives – need to promote collaboration and coordination

Plans are being made for the preparation of a new Management Plan for the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park using a more integrated approach between the partner organisations to ensure greater clarity regarding roles and responsibility. The new Plan will be funded by the German International Development Cooperation (GIZ) under its Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Project and should be complete in 2016.

Natural Heritage Conservation Programme

Programme Goal
To maintain and enhance the remaining area of closed broadleaf forest and component species of plants and animals which exist in the Blue and John Crow Mountains.
Objective 1 To rehabilitate and maintain at least 120 hectares of degraded forest on shale and limestone in the priority intervention areas.
Objective 2 To successfully propagate and supply 22,000 native seedlings for use in forest rehabilitation, including at least 4 additional native species one of which is threatened.
Objective 3 To promote research that will inform park management, but will not threaten the resources.
Objective 4 To implement specific conservation programmes for conservation targets, as relevant information becomes available.

BJCMNP Conservation Targets

The National Park has 8 conservation targets; however due to limited information regarding specific conservation requirements and based on the knowledge that habitat is critical and that loss of habitat is a major threat to biodiversity, management focuses on protection and rehabilitation of montane forest particularly on shale where it is most threatened.

BJCMNP Conservation Targets

Conservation TargetTarget Justification
montane forest on shale Blue Mountain forest ecosystem with over 40% plant endemism, many with a threatened status. Contracting forest habitat for dependent wildlife.
montane forest on limestone John Crow Mountain forest ecosystem and Blue Mountain limestone outcrops with high plant endemism, many with a threatened status. Contracting forest habitat for dependent wildlife.
epiphytic communities Major grouping of plants, including many endemic and highly threatened orchids and bromeliads, the latter of which are important habitats for many of our endemic species of Eleutherodactylus frogs.
headwater ecosystems Vital headwater ecosystems that supply water to eastern Jamaica, and cover 10 watershed management units.
montane forest birds Major grouping of native and migrant species. Natives with a high level of endemism and similar conservation requirements.
Jamaican Coney Last remaining native, non-volant mammalian species high in the food chain. It is vulnerable and endemic.
Yellow Snake Large, vulnerable, reptilian, endemic species often killed on sight by local people.
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Endangered, endemic, flagship species affected by illegal trade.

Between 2005 and 2009, the Conservation Progrmme goal was achieved as:-

  1. the targeted area was maintained (according to Forestry Department assessment of photography from a helicopter reconnaissance) and
  2. enhanced with 42ha rehabilitated by JCDT and about 38ha reforested by the Lions Club and the Forestry Department.

Evidence from the National Park’s Monitoring and Evaluation Programme, indicates that species populations of plants and animals have remained stable or even increased. The use of native species and eradication of alien invasive plant species has increased the biodiversity in targeted areas of the National Park.

JCDT’s current conservation work in the BJCMNP is based on the pioneering work of Dr. Shauna Lee Chai. This was prior to her being awarded a Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship to pursue Ph.D. studies in forest ecology at Cambridge University, where she obtained this degree based on studies in the BJCMNP. Between 2004 – 2005, with funding from the Rufford Foundation and Strawberry Hill Hotel and Spa, Shauna-Lee investigated control of the invasive Wild Coffee or Mock Orange (Pittosporum undualatum), Wild Ginger (Hedychium sp.) and rehabilitation of degraded forest with native, non-lumber species.

Dr. Shauna Lee Chai in the field with Park Ranger Johnson
Dr. Shauna-Lee Chai in the field with Park Ranger Johnson

The same species continue to be grown in the Park’s nurseries at Holywell and Hagley Gap with efforts moving ahead to propagate other species. Planting a variety of native species promotes biodiversity and use of non-lumber species discourages illegal logging within the National Park. Species include Sapium harissii (Milkwood), Alchornea latifolia (Dovewood), Clethra occidentalis (Soapwood), Podocarpus urbanii (Mountain Yacca). 18,000 seedlings were successfully grown and planted between 2005 and 2009 and the target for 2011 – 2016 is 22,000.

Conservation Science Officer, Marlon Beale explains to HRH the Prince of Wales, the propagation of native seedlings at the BJCMNP nursery at Holywell
Conservation Science Officer, Marlon Beale explains to HRH the Prince of Wales,
the propagation of native seedlings at the BJCMNP nursery at Holywell

During the period, 2010 – 2014, the following achievements were made:

Activity 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
# of native tree seedlings produced e.g. Milkwood (Sapium jamaicense) and Dovewood (Alchornea latifolia) 4,724 5,579 6,606 10,522 4,500
# hectares reforested 2010 – 2012: Cinchona area & 2013 with FCF funding: Sherwood – private land-owner 8.5 2.4 15 10 0.4
# hectares invasive species controlled: mainly Wild Ginger (Hedychium sp) 2 0 1 1 1.5

Research

Management is based on a scientific understanding of the ecosystems and their threats and requirements. Therefore, research is needed to guide management. Researchers must apply to the National Environment and Planning Agency for permission to conduct field research in Jamaica. For research proposed in the BJCMNP, the JCDT is asked to comment on the proposals. Between 2005 and 2009 Park staff accompanied 11 researchers in the field to share knowledge and reduce threats to resources. Partnerships were established with 4 research institutions and significant research was conducted and/or initiated:-

  • University of the West Indies (UWI) – a variety of studies
  • University of Michigan (UM) – M.Sc. project on community views and Park impact
  • Humboldt University – birds and their impact on coffee pests
  • Cambridge University – forest cover changes

The following highlights some of the research needs for the BJCMNP

Invasive Plants

  • The distribution of Pittosporum undulatum in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and Community Buffer Zone.
  • Controlling P. viridiflorum, Melinus minutiflora (molasses or Wynne grass), Gleichenia sp (fern), and Polygonum chinnense (red bush) in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Investigating competition between invasive plant species such as (P. undulatum, P. viridiflorum, Melinus minutiflora, Gleichenia sp, Hedychium gardnerianum, Polygonum chinnense) and the native flora of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Investigation of possible economic uses of invasive plant species such as Wild Ginger (Hedychium sp.) and Wild Coffee/Mock Orange (Pittosporum undulatum).

Native Plants

  • Propagation of endemic and threatened plant species of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (can use Park nurseries)

Birds

  • Bird composition in the central and eastern regions of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Bird composition in the Blue and John Crow Mountains below 1,000 meters.
  • Status of the range expanding Shiny cowbird in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Population status of the Jamaican Blackbird in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Population estimates of key native (particularly endemics) and migrant bird species

Hutia

  • Demographic and Ecological Studies on the Jamaican Hutia (Geocapromys browneii) in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. In particular, the status and impact of hunting on populations, and the possible use of captive breeding and release as a conservation strategy.

Invertebrates

  • A taxonomic survey of the insects found in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Investigation of potential bio-indicators of ecosystem health in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Demographic study of the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio homerus)
  • Demographic and ecological study of Land crabs in the BJCMNP
  • A taxonomic survey of the aquatic invertebrates found in the rivers and streams of the Blue and John Crow Mountains.
  • Taxonomic and ecological study of the fauna of bromeliads in the BJCMNP

Ecology

  • Ecological studies of conservation targets and other species within the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, with particular emphasis on specific threats and conservation management requirements.

Agriculture

  • The distribution, size, growth and shrinking rate of coffee farms in and around the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Harvesting non timber forest resources - resource dynamics and resource users

Forest Ecology and Forestry

  • Silvicultural requirements and suitability of some indigenous tree species on farmland areas around the Blue and John Crow Mountains
  • The survival and growth rates of young indigenous trees in open agricultural areas around the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Species composition in forest soil seed banks of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Habitat assessment of the upper montane rainforest over limestone on John Crow peak
  • Habitat assessment of the Montane Summit Savanna and Riparian communities in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Assessment of species on the northern slopes of the Blue Mountains, particularly bryophytes and lichens.
  • The effect of forest clearance on soil fertility and productivity and water yield.
  • Updated forest and wildlife inventory

Communities and Socio-economic Issues

  • The impact of buffer zone communities on the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, including issues related to demographic changes.
  • Analysis of participatory approaches to natural resources management in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Analysis of old enforcement and natural resource log books to establish trends and comparison with more current, geographical and electronic observation data, to identify any changes in the threats to the Park and to guide management approaches.
  • Impact of wild hog hunting on the ecological integrity of the BJCMNP.
  • Studies and pilot projects on sustainable harvesting and use of natural resources e.g. wicker, insects.
  • Studies and pilot projects on growing of native plant species e.g. orchids, and farming of animal species e.g. Giant Swallowtail Butterfly for revenue generation.

Maroon Cultural Heritage

  • Clarification of Maroon communal land location in relation to the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. The location is believed to be outside the Park boundary but the exact location is uncertain.
  • Further archaeological research at Nanny Town in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.
  • Growing of plants e.g. Cacoon, Thatch Palm, medicinal herbs, relevant to Maroon heritage, to ensure their conservation and sustainable harvesting.

Recreation

  • Estimate of carrying capacity and development of Limits of Acceptable Change Monitoring and Visitor Impact Management Systems particularly in the BJCMNP recreation areas – Holywell, Blue Mountain Peak Trail and Cunha Cunha Pass Trail, but possibly also for Buffer Zone Community attractions e.g. Cascade Waterfall.
  • A study on trails within the Park and its Community Buffer Zone to identify trails suitable for development, management and monitoring requirements, based on ecological, environmental and other assessments.

Other

  • Analysis of hazard vulnerability within the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, and identification and mapping of areas for special management.
  • Climate change and its impacts on the BJCMNP, especially flora and fauna (can use data from Park monitoring) Aim to make recommendations for action.
  • Study on potential mining in the Park, and its ecological, environmental, social and economic impacts including cost/benefit analysis which considers the ecosystem services the Park provides.

 

Cultural Heritage Preservation Programme

Since 2010, the JCDT has been working closely with the Windward Maroon Councils along with the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) for the preservation of the tangible heritage and with the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica (ACIJ) for the preservation of the intangible heritage.

The National Park and the Rio Grande Valley were designated Protected National Heritage in 2014, under the JNHT Act to help preserve both the tangible and intangible heritage. The Park’s Co-management Committee now includes the JNHT, the ACIJ and a representative from the Maroon Councils.

The tangible heritage of the Windward Maroons consists primarily of places:

  • archaeological sites where villages and towns once existed e.g. Nanny Town and Dinner Time;
  • trails e.g. Cunha Cunha Pass Trail;
  • rivers, springs and waterfalls e.g. Quao River, Three Finger Jack Spring and Nanny Falls;
  • burial sites e.g. at Windsor and Bowden Pen.

Look Out Bump Cunha Cunha Pass Trail
Look Out Bump Cunha Cunha Pass Trail

Many of these places are still in use by the present day Maroons, for similar purposes as their ancestors – to gather medicinal herbs, to go to market, to collect water or to fish. Some, particularly Nanny Town are considered sacred and not to be visited for fun, but rather for special purposes.

The intangible heritage of the Windward Maroons includes music including drumming and songs; dance; language – Kromanti and cuisine e.g. bussu soup, cacoon stew and perhaps best known – jerk pork. There are many rituals which the elders and leaders of the Maroons practice e.g. blowing the abeng (a cow horn) to gather people and some which are secret and not discussed with Non-Maroons. Some of this heritage can be experienced at the festivals organised by each Maroon community at different times of the year. JCDT assists the Maroon communities by helping to source sponsorship for, and participation in, these events. JCDT also promotes visits to the Windward Maroon communities and their attractions throughout the year. In 2012, with funds from the Forest Conservation Fund, JCDT provided sub-grants to the Moore Town Maroon Council, Charles Town Maroon Council and the Bowden Pen Farmers’ Association to improve some of their tourism ventures, in addition to providing business plan and first aid training as well as computers and office furniture.

In 2013 JCDT obtained a small grant from the Jamaica Energy Partners to support Park and community events and in 2014 funds were received from the GEF/UNDP NEPA National Protected Area Strengthening Project for the same purpose. 3 communities (Charles Town Maroon Council, Moore Town Maroon Council and the Bowden Pen Farmers’ Association) have received funds to help support their annual festivals.

Group from Moore Town dances at Nanny Day Celebrations 2014
Group from Moore Town dances at Nanny Day Celebrations 2014

Enforcement & Compliance Programme

Programme Goal
To stop encroachment of the BJCMNP boundary and destruction of the forest and wildlife within
Objective 1 To increase the level of presence of enforcement officers and their effectiveness in detecting and mitigating breaches of relevant legislation
Objective 2 To contribute to the resolution of breaches inclusive prosecution of offenders
Objective 3 To resolve boundary discrepancies and re-establish and mark all boundaries.
Objective 4 To raise community awareness regarding: the BJCMNP boundary and legislation, particular issues that threaten the BJCMNP, and increase community involvement in addressing these issues.

Patrols of the National Park (particularly at key locations along the boundary) continue to increase, since doubling between 2005 and 2009. Additional patrols are carried out by the Forestry Department.

# of patrols 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
  43 80 120 175 100 129 124 96 131 128

The National Park Regulations of 1993, section 32, state the functions of a National Park Ranger as, “to patrol the area of each national park, to protect the resources of that national park and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, to-

  1. patrol and monitor the various zones of the national park;
  2. enforce these Regulations;
  3. maintain patrol vehicles, marking facilities and trails;
  4. provide first-aid, emergency or rescue assistance to national park users in the event of accident or injury; and
  5. assist in the conduct of environmental monitoring programmes”.

This is exactly what the BJCMNP Rangers do – they are involved in all aspects of National Park management, including encouraging compliance through interpretive enforcement.

Since 2005, the Park Rangers have been using GPS Units to identify the coordinates of the patrol location so that this can be mapped using Geographical Information Systems (GIS). They also take photographs and notes of their observations. This information is used to guide the Enforcement and Compliance Programme in regard to further action to reduce breaches of legislation.

Patrols for 2014
Patrols for 2014

Illegal activities and threats to the National Park’s ecosystems are reported to the relevant government agency (National Environment and Planning Agency and/or Forestry Department) and action taken accordingly.

Confiscation of Juniper Cedar stolen from within the National Park
Confiscation of Juniper Cedar stolen from within the National Park

Education & Public Involvement Programme

PROGRAMME GOAL

To raise support for conservation of the BJCMNP’s natural and cultural heritage and improve resource management and the sustainability of livelihoods, particularly in Buffer Zone communities.

PROGRAMME OBJECTIVESTARGET GROUPSSUB-PROGRAMMES

1. To facilitate capacity building of at least 120 persons from at least 6 communities, for more environmentally sustainable livelihoods and greater involvement in management of the resources of the BJCMNP and its Community Buffer Zone.

1 Community Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods Programme

2. To increase awareness about the National Park’s natural and cultural heritage, importance and management, in order to increase the level of support for the BJCMNP.

1 and 4 Public Awareness Campaign – community and general public
2 and 3 Interpretive Programme
1 and 2 Buffer Zone Schools Programme

Target Groups

Group 1: Communities (particularly resource users) around the park. They include farmers, community-based organizations such as citizens, churches, schools, youth and women’s groups; and business entities such as shops and business interests in coffee, spring water and tourism.

Group 2: Schools (teachers and students) around the park, in eastern Jamaica and the rest of the island.

Group 3: Visitors (to the Park’s and Buffer Zone’s recreation areas.

Group 4: The wider public including businesses and government agencies.

Prior to 2000, education and sustainable livelihoods training in the BJCMNP was community oriented, and implemented by the Rangers through “interpretive enforcement” or specific projects. After 1996, there was an increased focus on schools in the Buffer Zone communities. In 2003, with the Youth PATH project, the focus broadened from just community schools to community youth (who had left school) and by 2004, attention to community adults began to increase again. This was particularly influenced by the recognition that whilst environmental education in schools was important in order to encourage environmental conservation in successive generations, children and youth were not directly responsible for the threats to the Park. In addition an assessment conducted indicated the need to target community adults.

The period 2011 to 2016 will continue to have multiple targets as visits to community schools and visits of Kingston schools to Holywell continue in addition to building of community capacity for environmental management and sustainable development. Achievements so far for this Management Plan period include the following:

Activity 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
# of community meetings 12 10 15 8 15
# schools visited 37 50 30 7 6
# schools visit Park 41 7 22 39 33

Business planning training workshop in Port Antonio
Business planning training workshop in Port Antonio

Highlights of community education for 2005 – 2009 were:

  • facilitation of sustainable agriculture training for over 75 community members, particularly in organic farming, soil conservation and green-house agriculture.
  • agro-forestry or sustainable agriculture projects in 3 communities (Millbank, Woodford/Freetown and Cascade/Section).

Planting of pineapples to reduce soil erosion beside greenhouse being built at Cascade to reduce slash and burn farming practices
Planting of pineapples to reduce soil erosion beside greenhouse being built at Cascade to reduce slash and burn farming practices

  • Almost 200 community members attended community meetings in 8 communities to raise awareness about a variety of issues including the Yellow Snake (Jamaican Boa) and Fires.
  • Over 200 people from 8 communities in the Upper Rio Grande Valley attended “town square” meetings regarding the illegal and harmful use of pesticides for catching crayfish.
  • Interpretation at Holywell improved significantly particularly with the establishment of the Kids Discovery Zone and development of educational packages for primary level students. With marketing, the number of schools visiting for booked packages moved from 7 (500 students) in 2006 to 41 (over 2,500 students) in 2009.

School group playing at the Kids Discovery Zone, Holywell
School group playing at the Kids Discovery Zone, Holywell

  • The number of buffer zone community schools visited annually was increased from 25 to 37, with the inclusion of basic schools (4 – 6 year olds) as well as primary and all age schools (10 – 12 year olds). Involvement of Youth PATH members and Park Rangers also facilitated this increase in the number of schools, by increasing the human resources addressing the programme.

Ranger Poyser and Youth PATH make a presentation at a basic school
Ranger Poyser and Youth PATH member make a presentation at a basic school

BJCMNP | The Blue Mountains Experience

The JCDT appreciates the involvement and support of our Partners, Donors and Sponsors

  • National Environment & Planning Agency
  • Forestry Department
  • Jamaica National Heritage Trust
  • Environmental Foundation of Jamaica
  • Forest Conservation Fund
  • Pear Tree Press
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