Stakeholder Involvement in Planning and Management
About the Implementing organization
Name: Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust
Year of establishment: 1988
Type of organization: Legally recognized non-profit status
JCDT aims not only to protect natural forest and restore degraded areas within the National Park for biodiversity conservation, securing the water supply for eastern Jamaica and reducing climate change impacts e.g. landslides but also to work with Blue Mountain communities to improve agricultural practices for the same reasons. So, JCDT works to raise awareness, interest and involvement of community members in both planning and conservation of the National Park and wider Blue Mountain region. This is done by involving community members in planning by facilitating workshops in local communities despite the distance, bad roads and evening and weekend meeting times. The information and the insights from discussions with community and other stakeholders are used to prepare the Management Plan, projects and proposals. Also, community meetings and mobilisation e.g. Park Rangers distributing flyers, allow JCDT to meet community members interested in being involved in management activities.
Community members are therefore involved in planning and implementing solutions to address the conservation of the National Park’s natural and cultural heritage and this results in greater by-in to Park management activities. They are involved in implementation through training and activities such as reforestation and invasive species control within the National Park and activities such as sustainable agriculture and tourism outside the Park boundary.
Forests / Mountains / Rivers / Wildlife
Type of Action
Protection / Restoration / Sustainable use / Awareness and education
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Water security / Disaster risk reduction
Involvement of community stakeholders increases the number of people involved in Park management. This is critical as JCDT currently employs only 13 full-time staff of whom only 8 are generally in the field and 10 part-time staff employed in the recreational areas. Community members are physically located around the National Park and so are best able to act as eyes, ears, hands and feet for conservation of the area’s natural and cultural heritage. Reforestation would not be possible without the existing community contractors and local land-owners e.g. between 2015 and 2016, 18 hectares of degraded private land immediately adjacent the National Park boundary was reforested mainly with native tree species
Sustainable Development Impacts
Environmentally unsustainable agricultural practices in communities on the steep slopes of the Blue Mountains outside the National Park have resulted in land degradation. This is already having a negative impact on water supply locally and in the capital, Kingston and will result in exacerbated impacts from climate change. Land degradation is having negative economic impacts from reduced productivity and this tempts farmers to encroach the boundary of the National Park where the soil is damp and rich although for only one or two crop cycles. This is a longer distance from their communities, is illegal and unsustainable and will simply increase their operating costs. Farmers must be encouraged and empowered to grow tree crops as well as the usual fast-growing cash-crops. JCDT’s agro-forestry projects funded by the Forest Conservation Fund between 2015 and 2016 saw 77 farmers from 4 communities receiving training and planting 1,178 fruit and native lumber trees on their farms.
This action could be scaled up on a national level for other protected areas but for the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and World Heritage Site, we have been consistently scaling up our involvement of community stakeholders. For example, during the preparation of the 2005 – 2009 Management Plan, 8 community workshops were held. In 2010, for the 2011 – 2016 Plan there were 12 workshops targeting 15 communities with 243 participants and in 2016 for the 2017 – 2027 Plan there were 19 workshops targeting 21 communities with 356 participants. This shows the increasing amount of community involvement in management planning. Contact information is obtained from participants so that they can then be involved in park management activities e.g. training and reforestation work. The JCDT has found that interest works both ways – the community members involved in park management activities tend to come out to community meetings.
The Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is Jamaica’s first and only national park, the other protected areas are mainly marine parks, fish sanctuaries, forest reserves and other types of protected areas covering both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The example of the BJCM National Park is often used as a case study for training and education programmes e.g. in the natural resource management Masters’ Degree programmes at the University of the West Indies. The involvement of community stakeholders is now standard in most protected areas across the island and much more can be learned from the example of the BJCM National Park and shared with the other protected areas to improve management.
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