Management Planning starts for Jamaica’s first World Heritage Site

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Representatives from four key organisations involved in management of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park met today with representative from the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) – Eva Maria Naeher to initiate plans for the preparation of a management plan for the property which was recently inscribed on the World Heritage List. The Jamaican organisations which will lead the process are: the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust, National Environment and Planning Agency, Forestry Department and Jamaica National Heritage Trust. The presence and active implementation of a management plan is a critical factor in the evaluation of sites for World Heritage status. The current management plan for the National Park is for the period 2011 – 2016. One of Jamaica’s obligations to the World Heritage Committee, under a three year work-plan for the site, is the preparation of a new management plan (2017 – 2027) which will better integrate all facets of management particularly with respect to governance and cultural heritage. In addition, the new plan will benefit from the information gathered during the world heritage nomination process.

Preparatory work for the National Park and World Heritage Site management plan got underway in May, 2015 during an executive level study tour of the Kalkalpen National Park in Austria and the Bavarian Forest National Park in Germany. This tour, involving the same four Jamaican organisations and their representatives who will lead the management planning process was facilitated by the GIZ. The tour focused on learning more about governance options, partnerships, tourism and environmental education approaches. Discussions were held with the Director of the Bavarian Forest National Park regarding possible “twinning” with the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park. The management plan for a protected area and a World Heritage Site in particular, provides the framework for site management including goals, objectives, strategies, budgets and institutional arrangements. Management planning is a process which allows for the participation of stakeholders e.g. organisations with legal mandates, persons who live in communities around the National Park, academics who have studied the area and other interested parties. The planning process seeks to establish consensus on the vision, goals and strategic approaches for management of the site as well as targets which will help in the on-going assessment of management effectiveness. The assistance from the GIZ through their regional Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) Project – where GIZ is partnering with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) – will help strengthen management of the Blue and John Crow Mountains – the Caribbean’s first World Heritage Site inscribed for both cultural and natural heritage (and one of only 32 in the world). The CATS Project is also supporting the establishment of an agro-processing centre in Millbank, Rio Grande Valley and will provide for intense training in sustainable and climate friendly agricultural practices in 3 communities around the National Park. These projects will help Jamaica address concerns expressed by the World Heritage Committee regarding the threat to our unique natural forests, from inappropriate and unsustainable farming practices including slash and burn. CATS Project Officer, Ms Naeher said, “The Blue and John Crow Mountains are a hotspot for a unique ecosystem with a rich variety of different species of flora and fauna. This ecosystem has to be preserved and at the same time made an experience for local and international visitors. We have to educate people for environmental issues, so that the preservation of these areas and the application of good agricultural practices for example, become a routine and a joint effort”.

For further information contact: Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT):
Tel: 920-8278/9 or
Email: jamaicaconservation@gmail.com and
Website: www.blueandjohncrowmountains.org

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