A park for resisting slavery

18 July 2011 | Fact sheet

Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP), Jamaica

Background

The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP), Jamaica was designated in 1993 under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act, on the boundary of the Blue Mountain Forest Reserve and a group of adjoining forest reserves, designated between 1945 and 1965. The government agency responsible for national parks is the National Environment and Planning Agency, who have delegated management to the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT) – a non-government organisation. These two have a collaborative agreement with the Forestry Department, and JCDT is recognised as responsible for the Park’s operational management.

The purpose of the BJCMNP is to ensure long-term conservation of the site’s biodiversity, ecosystem services and cultural heritage associated with it. The specific conservation objective is to maintain and enhance the remaining area of closed broadleaf forest and the plants and animals within it. The BJCMNP is managed as an IUCN category II site guided by a five-year management plan.

View images of the Park

Size and Location:

The BJCMNP is  located in eastern Jamaica within the Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot and the Greater Antillean Moist Forests Ecoregion, is 486.5 sq. km.

 Flora and Fauna:

The park includes the largest continuous block of closed broadleaf forest in Jamaica, amounting to one-third of all that remains in the island. While most of Jamaica (including the John Crow Mountain range) has limestone geology, the Blue Mountains have a volcanic and metamorphic geology. Located within the Park, the Blue Mountain Peak at 2,256 metres, is the highest point in the island. This wide variation in geology, altitude and climate has resulted in a highly diverse flora and fauna within a variety of forest, stream and other ecosystems.

The IUCN Red List contains 324 taxa of threatened and near-threatened trees occurring in Jamaica, and of these, 106 taxa are found within the forests of the National Park. All 28 of Jamaica’s endemic bird species and sub-species can be found in the National Park including the threatened Jamaican Blackbird (Nesopsar nigerrimus). The Park provides refuge for the endemic and globally vulnerable Jamaican Boa (Epicrates subflavus) and Jamaican Hutia (Geocapromys brownii). Of the 23 native and endemic Eleutherodactylus frogs in Jamaica, 11 are found in the Blue and John Crow Mountains and 5 of these are endemic to the National Park. The site is one of only two remaining habitats for the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Pterourus/Papilio homerus) the largest butterfly in the Western Hemisphere.

Cultural Heritage:

The Windward Maroons were the first Maroon nation in the western hemisphere and their capital now known as Nanny Town is an archaeological site deep within the Blue Mountains. This group are the archetype of Maroonage – the resistance of African and Amerindian people to European enslavement. The Blue and John Crow Mountains provided all the resources that enabled the Windward Maroons to develop their unique culture and defend their freedom. The BJCMNP provides a memorial to the Maroon ancestors as their descendants maintain their culture within the Park’s Community Buffer Zone.

 Threats:

The main threats to the BJCM National Park are deforestation, forest degradation and wildlife destruction and now climate change. Active sources of these threats include agriculture, invasive species, fire and illegal logging. The management programmes are designed to address root causes of these challenges. For example, there is a forest rehabilitation programme aimed at controlling invasive species and growing native, non-lumber tree species. A small corps of uniformed Rangers patrol the Park, particularly at the boundaries where encroachment is a threat, and there are plans to train community members to provide greater assistance in promoting compliance with the legislation.