Sustainable Tourism for Conservation and Socio-economic Development
About the Implementing organization
Name: Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust
Year of establishment: 1988
Type of organization: Legally recognized non-profit status
The main approach to managing the National Park and World Heritage Site is to address threats to the heritage values. One threat, based on feedback from community members in workshops and socio-economic research, is a lack of income generating and employment opportunities in communities around the National Park. This leads to poverty and a perceived need to use the heritage resources often unsustainably. JCDT as Park manager seeks to provide and facilitate income generating opportunities through activities which support conservation e.g. Park management activities and sustainable tourism. Community members are employed on a part-time or contractual basis e.g. groundsmen, tour guides, plumber and carpenter but the National Park will not be able to employ most people nor to accommodate large numbers of visitors. The potential for income generation through sustainable tourism in the Blue Mountain communities around the National Park is very significant but has hardly been tapped.
JCDT has been working with Blue Mountains communities to build their capacity for sustainable tourism through training, project proposal writing and funding support. Focus started with the Maroon communities and Bowden Pen Farmers Association in particular. This group now has a successful eco-resort, manages a number of trails and implements conservation activities that enhance their product e.g. reforestation.
Forests / Mountains / Rivers / Wildlife
Type of Action
Sustainable use / Awareness and education
Sustainable Development Element
Jobs and livelihoods / Water security / Disaster risk reduction
The work with the Bowden Pen Farmers Association has resulted in significant positive environmental impact. The group showed interest following community meetings and workshops several years ago and this led to a variety of technical assistance being provided to them by the JCDT. The Association was assisted with the re-establishment of a heritage trail, development of an eco-resort and they in turn conduct conservation activities such as reforestation. They also police the National Park around their community and address infractions directly or report to the JCDT, monitor species especially the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly and conduct outreach to the local school.
Sustainable Development Impacts
The Bowden Pen Farmers Association and now other Blue Mountain communities are generating additional income for their members through sustainable tourism activities. They recognise the need to ensure that their other livelihood practices are sustainable in order to support and enhance their tourism ventures. There has been an emphasis on youth with skills training in conservation, environmental management and tour guiding. Trained youth are then involved in Park management e.g. tour guiding and assisting Park staff particularly in education and community outreach. Three of our National Park Rangers and several of our tour guides have joined the Park Management team through this route. One of the youth trainees is now completing her Associate Degree in Hospitality and Tourism at the Excelsior Community College in Kingston.
The example of the work of the JCDT especially with the Bowden Pen Farmers has been used as a case study for the support of sustainable community tourism e.g. by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Project. The Bowden Pen Farmers’ Association eco-resort is called Ambassabeth and they have won several awards including from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.
The action is being replicated by the JCDT and can be replicated on a national scale e.g. in 2016, JCDT took 15 people from 6 communities on a two-day training to Ambassabeth so they could learn from the experience of the Bowden Pen Farmers’ Association. Paid visits by other community groups to Ambassabeth would help both the Farmers’ Association and the other groups. JCDT is currently seeking funds to implement more training using this approach. In addition the eco-resort is used for field trips to enhance learning and understanding of the students in Masters’ Degree programmes at the University of the West Indies.
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