How Jamaica is Protecting its UNESCO World Heritage Site
PHOTO: Jamaica’s Blue Mountain and John Crow Mountains gained UNESCO World Heritage Site designation last year. (Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Tourist Board)
Jamaica’s government is determined to protect its newest UNESCO World Heritage site, recently warning residents and visitors of significant fines for persons who commit various offenses in the Blue Mountain and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP). World Heritage Site (WHS).
In a report on the government-run Jamaica Information Service website, Selvenius Walters, an official at the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), said efforts are being made to protect the site from the hunting and killing of animals, the cutting down of trees for farming and the dumping of garbage, mining and quarrying and the establishment of illegal settlements.
The fines currently range between $82 and $413 in U.S. dollars, said Walters, but “our stakeholders believe that the fines are not stringent enough.” He said JNHT is currently revising the fines “and I am sure the fees will be greatly increased for breaches,” he said.
Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains were designated World Heritage Sites in July. The mountains are Jamaica’s first UNESCO World Heritage sites and are the first mixed sites (representing cultural and natural significance) in the Caribbean region awarded the key UNESCO designation, according to Jamaica Tourist Board officials.
The BJCMNP area contains Jamaica’s largest contiguous tract of closed broad-leaf forest, globally recognized for their biological diversity. The park is also the last of two known habitats of the giant swallowtail butterfly, the Western Hemisphere’s largest.
READ MORE: 5 Essential Tastes of Jamaica
Culturally the site is home to Jamaica’s Windward Maroon community, composed of the descendants of escaped slaves who battled Great Britain’s military until a 1739 peace treaty.
Walters said the fines apply to the World Heritage Site and the World Heritage Site Buffer Zone, an area of 55,000 hectares surrounding the site that includes present-day Maroon communities and “significant archaeological sites” including abandoned Maroon villages.
Mr. Walters said that persons visiting the Park should not hunt or harm birds or other endangered species, such as the Jamaican Coney and the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. Visitors on hiking trails including the Cunha Cunha Pass Trail should refrain from improperly disposing of plastic bags, water bottles and other items, he added.
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