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Jamaica - Country Profile

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Jamaica has a tropical maritime climate with a broad range of different topographical and geological features, all of which influence its abundant biodiversity. It is ranked fifth among islands of the world for plant endemism, but also enjoys a high level of endemism for animal species, with 98.2% of the 514 indigenous species of land snails and 100% of the 22 indigenous species of amphibians being endemic to Jamaica. Nearly 30.1% of this mountainous country is covered with forests and Jamaica’s highest point, the Blue Mountain Peak, reaches a maximum height of 2,256 metres. There are 10 hydrological basins containing over 100 streams and rivers, in addition to several subterranean waterways, ponds, springs and blue holes. The country’s rich marine species diversity includes fish, sea anemones, black and stony corals, mollusks, turtles, whales, dolphin and manatees.

In terms of agricultural biodiversity, genetic resources from both wild animals and plants are used to improve domestic breeds and varieties, respectively. There is also a high economic importance for Jamaica’s agricultural economy placed on animal species that act as pollinators, seed dispersers and reducers of dead organic material.

Natural resources have played an important part in both Jamaica’s pre- and post-colonial development with the island’s major economic sectors (agriculture, tourism, mining) all based on natural resources. Tourism is the largest foreign exchange earner for Jamaica and is directly dependent on habitat quality with white sand beaches, rivers, mountains and forests being some of the major attractions.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Threats to Jamaica’s biodiversity include habitat loss, over-exploitation, the impact of invasive alien species, weak law enforcement, inadequate awareness of the value of natural resources, poor spatial planning and land use, pollution and climate change. Because of the importance of Jamaica’s economy on the environment and natural resources, these threats can have a wide range of impacts which affect Jamaica’s economy as well as its environment.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

To help implement the NBSAP (2003), 37 projects were identified designed to address 7 major goals: 1) to conserve biodiversity; 2) the sustainable use of biological resources; 3) to facilitate access to biological resources to promote developments in biotechnology and benefit-sharing; 4) the safe transfer, handling and use of the living modified organisms; 5) to enhance resource management capacity; 6) raising public awareness, education and community empowerment; and 7) promote local and regional cooperation and collaboration in implementing the CBD and the NBSAP.

Preparations have begun in regard to revising and updating the NBSAP. Opportunities for implementing a number of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets are presented in the National Development Plan known as “Vision 2030 Jamaica”.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Of the 37 projects established in the NBSAP, many of them will help to achieve key Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Increasing awareness of biodiversity (Aichi Biodiversity Target 1) is addressed through initiatives such as the Protected Areas Public Education/Information Programme, the Sensitisation of the Judiciary and Training for Customs and Immigration Officers and the Constabulary and the Develop and Expand Existing Environment Education Programmes and Exhibits in the Royal Botanical Gardens, including the Hope Zoo. There have also been biodiversity education programmes in schools; training sessions for hotel staff; dissemination of information through brochures, newsletters and the media; and the organization of community awareness and fundraising events.

There have been various efforts to increase the number of protected areas through the Protected Areas System Master Plan (2012) which aims to have ten protected areas with effective management by 2020, using participatory and science-based site planning processes that incorporate clear biodiversity objectives, targets, management strategies and monitoring programmes, as well as a long-term management plan with active stakeholder involvement. There has also been a Declaration of Protected Areas for the: Black River, Mason River, Port Antonio, Dolphin Head, Cockpit Country, and Rozelle/ Rozelle Falls along with the preparation of legal instruments for the declaration of the areas; identification of suitable organisations to manage the areas; preparation of co-management agreements with relevant stakeholders and preparation and review of the draft management plans for the protected areas.

Several rehabilitation programs have also been launched contributing to ecosystem resilience (Aichi Biodiversity Target 15), including the identification of degraded areas, surveys and assessment of these degraded areas and systematic rehabilitation programs. These actions are being carried out for both forest reserves and coral reef ecosystems. There has also been increased monitoring of vulnerable ecosystems, such as coral reefs, including the installation of mooring buoys and the monitoring of water-sports activities in hotels.

In terms of identifying invasive alien species pathways and effects (Aichi Biodiversity Target 9), the preparation of an Alien Invasive Species Management Strategy has been launched to help determine the extent of this threat as well as specific programmes designed to eradicate existing invasive species.

Harmful subsidies have been replaced by tax incentives provided to landowners for maintaining existing forest and establishing or restoring tree cover. In the 2005-2009 period, three privately owned forest lands were placed under protected management. In the Strategic Forest Management Plan (2009-2013), agro-forestry was emphasized.

There has also been particular focus on pollution reduction with a chemical analysis of selected rivers, streams and near-shore sites; licensing of all effluent disposers; regulation of disposal methods, sites and quantities; bio-monitoring; preparation of a monitoring programme for chemical levels in conjunction with analysis of biological effects; and increased penalties and fines for offenders.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

To support the implementation of the NBSAP, there are 52 pieces of legislation with aspects that directly relate to environmental issues, but very few of these statutes deal comprehensively with the protection, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as they are primarily sectoral in nature.

Securing funding vital to the success of the NBSAP was spearheaded by an aggressive campaign to identify new potential sources of funding. In addition, there has been increased investment in the Jamaica National Parks Trust Fund (JNPTF). Normally, funding is obtained from various Government initiatives, such as the Sustainable Financing Plan for Jamaica’s System of Protected Areas (2009) which provides support for biodiversity initiatives. International initiatives such as UNEP, USAID and UNDP support the Institute of Jamaica and the National Environment and Planning Agency in biodiversity-related activities. Estimates still suggest that these sources are inadequate.

A five-year capacity development plan was prepared in 2007 which provided sustainable financing, collaboration, an enabling environment (policy, legal and regulatory framework); human resources management for protected areas; research, monitoring and evaluation.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Jamaica’s National Ecological Gap Assessment Report was drafted in 2009 in order to “Identify where the existing protected areas fall short in adequately protecting a representative sample of all marine, terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity in the country”. This will allow authorities to determine short falling in the NBSAP and provide recommendations for future improvements. In addition, a National Biodiversity Secretariat was established as a supporting mechanism to help implement and monitor NBSAP progress.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme