Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Fri October 09 2015

Jamaica Government To Regulate UNESCO World Heritage Site Development

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | October 09, 2015

Jamaica Government To Regulate UNESCO World Heritage Site Development

PHOTO: Development will be regulated around Jamaica's Blue Mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Courtesy of Jamaica Tourist Board).

Jamaica officials are seeking to protect the environmental integrity of one of its most important natural environments. The country has established a rigid process to manage future development in the Blue and John Crow Mountains region, designated World Heritage Sites earlier this year by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said a government official late last month.

Speaking at a September “think tank” hosted by the government-run Jamaica Information Service, Lisa Hanna, minister of youth and culture, said regulations governing the Blue and John Crown Mountains World Heritage Site will be rigidly enforced.

Hanna said Jamaica’s Cultural Development Trust (JCDT) has been assigned to monitor, manage and enforce regulations required to ensure the area remains a heritage site.

“You can’t just get up and decide that you want to build, tear down or put up within this protected site,” said Hanna. “We have a management matrix that has been signed off and put together with all the major ministries that are involved.  We have to make reports to UNESCO at various points of the year and keep them informed.”

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.

Hanna’s agency has also launched a public education campaign to raise awareness of the significance of the site and the importance of its protection. The campaign will seek to highlight the role of local communities in the area’s conservation and management.

 “We have launched it to let persons understand what World Heritage is and what goes into having a world heritage site, the protection of it, the entrepreneurship of it and opportunities for the local communities and what needs to be done to protect the environment,” she said.

Strategies will be employed to engage local residents, including members of Jamaica’s sovereign Windward Maroon community, to communicate the importance of protecting the world heritage site.

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