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COUNTRY FOCUS- Climate  Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project-Jamaica

Considerations for  Selecting Locations for the Project

The selection of locations for the project  was based on their importance and current state. Over the past few years, the  physical state of these areas has undergone varying levels of degradation.  However, they are important to protecting shoreline, preserving biodiversity  and providing other socio-economic and environmental benefits. Further details  on their importance are given below.

 

Yallahs and Hope  River Watershed Management Unit

 

The Yallahs  and Hope River Watersheds are contiguous, and are located in the Blue and John Crow   Mountains on the Eastern  end of the island. They are forested areas characterized by steep slopes and  relatively thin soil cover. They are important in the provision of water,  particularly to the capital city of Kingston Jamaica  and its environs. They supply the Mona Reservoir which is the largest water  storage system in the Kingston  and St. Andrew areas (which host the country’s capital). Additionally, they are  important for soil stability and nutrient cycling for agriculture; maintaining  the local climate; and preserving biodiversity. Irrigation water for parts of St. Thomas including Albion  - Poormans Corner areas is supplied by the Yallahs River Watershed.
  They have  experienced severe degradation over the past few years. This has been  attributed primarily to natural hazards, development, deforestation and  unsustainable farming practices. The watersheds have inadequate drainage  systems, as well as improper road construction and maintenance. The results  have been deleterious having affected the livelihood of many and the efficient  recharge of water. The degradation has resulted in increased landslides and  slope instability; loss of lives and property; and siltation of rivers and  marine ecosystems downstream. The productivity of the land has therefore  decreased as has its ability to sustain biodiversity.
  In the  Yallahs Watershed, the proposed locations for special focus are Bellevue Heights,  Abby Green, Mt. Tiviot, Old England, and Clydesdale. Bellevue Heights is Crown lands reaching over  4,000 feet in elevation. It has abandoned coffee farms as it was previously  leased to the Coffee Board. There are on-going farming activities in areas  which the project aims to address. Abby Green, Mt.  Tiviot, Old England are characterized by unstable, steep slopes, and are also  above 4,000 feet above sea level. Residents in these areas have turned to  farming on the slopes which is unsustainable. Clydesdale is within a forested  area and has suffered from wind damage and invasive alien species.
  Dick’s Pond  and Oatley in the Hope River Watershed will have special attention within the  project. Dick’s Pond has extensive tree cover, but natural events have removed  much of the trees. Oatley has very steep slopes with elevations above 4,500  feet and was once used for coffee farming. Efforts will be made to restore the  areas to protect the hillside.

 

Portland Bight:

 

Portland  Bight is the body of water between the Hellshire Hills (to the west of Kingston) and Portland Ridge (the part of Jamaica  which sticks out to the south). The area was recently declared the Portland  Bight Protected Area with additional coastline occupying 200 sq. miles (520 sq.  km) of the surrounding coastal land and all the marine area out to the 200  metre depth contour (some eleven nautical miles south of Portland Point) for a  total area of 724 sq. miles (1876 sq. km). It is Jamaica’s  largest protected area thus far – 4.7% of Jamaica’s land area and 47.6% of  our island shelf.
  The  Portland Bight Protected Area is rich in wildlife and natural areas; 41% of the  land area is dry limestone forests of Hellshire, Portland Ridge and Braziletto Mountain,  and is rated as the largest relatively intact forests of that type left in  Central America and the Caribbean (81 sq.  miles, 210 sq. km). Of the 271 plant species identified in the Hellshire Hills  by Adams and DuQuesnay, 53 (19.6%) are found only in Jamaica (endemic), and several are  found only in the Hellshire Hills. The Hellshire Hills is the last known  habitat of the Jamaican Iguana, an endemic species and Jamaica's largest land animal. In  addition, the Hellshire Hills is the last remaining stronghold in Jamaica  of the endemic skink. Two endemic reptiles (a thunder snake and the Blue-Tailed  Galliwasp), and an endemic frog are found only on Portland Ridge. Jamaica’s  only endemic terrestrial mammal, the Coney, is found in Hellshire and Portland  Ridge. Many endemic and resident forest birds as well as North American migrant  birds add to the biodiversity.
  Another 16%  of the land area (32 sq. miles, 82 sq. km) is valuable wetlands, the largest  almost continuous mangrove stands remaining in Jamaica (about 48 km long). Within  the wetlands are many waterfowl, and healthy populations of our national  symbol, the crocodile.
  These  wetlands together with extensive sea-grass beds in the waters of the Bight  provide probably the largest nursery area for fish, crustaceans and molluscs on  the island and support 4,000 of Jamaica’s  16,000 fishers and their families. Two of Jamaica’s  largest fishing beaches – Old   Harbour Bay  and Rocky Point (each with over 1,000 fishers) – fall within the protected  area, and there is a tremendous opportunity to manage these fisheries to  increase the yields.
  Parts of  the mainland shoreline as well as many of the coral cays within the Bight, are  major nesting areas for sea birds and endangered sea turtles including  Hawksbill Turtles and Green Turtles. Manatees, which used to be numerous in the  area, are now rare, but there are still a few.

 

Palisadoes/Port  Royal Protected Areas (Refuge Cay):

 

This is the  most researched mangal is the Port Royal mangrove area due to its proximity to  the Kingston Harbour, a major trans-shipment port since the 1700’s and the  presence of the University of the West Indies Port Royal Marine Lab. The habitat of many bird populations in the Port   Royal Mangrove Forest is primarily limited to Refuge Cay, a mangrove  Cay 1.5 km North-west of the Norman   Manley International   Airport runway. This Cay  is the primary home to the majority of resident and migrant birds in the Port  Royal and Kingston  area due to its relative isolation from the mainland. The health of this Cay is  however threatened by the impact of solid waste which floats from the gullies,  storm drains and rivers of Kingston,  St. Andrew and St. Catherine. This accumulation of garbage on Refuge Cay causes  the death of native, endangered and migratory birds, retardation of mangrove  forest growth, discourages fish nursery and recruitment in the Protected Area.  This solid waste impact is also theorized to be a contributing factor to the  slow death of the inner mangroves, the Cay now showing a barren salina/mud flat  type situation several hundred meters long in the inner forest.

 

St. Thomas Morass:

 

The Great  Morass is situated at the extreme eastern end of the island with its  south-western boundary at Rocky Point, the eastern boundary at Morant Point,  the north-eastern boundary at Holland   Bay, and the  south-eastern boundary towards the sea. A large section of the wetland is  privately owned. The Morass is separated from the sea at Mammee Bay  by sand bars and white sandy beaches. There are three streams running through  the morass in the Belgium District which originate from blue holes. These empty  into the main drain which flows to the sea.  
  The flora  is dominated by mangroves. Mangrove thickets have been observed lining the main  stream down to the sea. These mainly comprise red mangrove and button mangrove.  On surrounding higher land, the vegetation is typical of strand woodland  association, particularly in the north-eastern section of the wetland around  Quaco Point and Morant Point.  
  The fauna  is comprised mainly of birds and crabs; crocodiles are also known to be present  in the area. Turtles are known to nest on the beaches around the morass but  have been hunted almost to the point of extinction. A portion of the swamp is  used for agriculture, including crops such as bananas, yams, and a small amount  of rice. Shrimps are known to be present in the drainage canals but not in  sufficient quantities to support a viable industry.

 

Buff Bay /Pencar  Watershed Management Unit

 

The Buff Bay River and the Pencar River Watersheds are located in the  parishes of Portland  and St. Mary respectively. They are important as they have forests reserves and  also supply the respective communities and surrounding areas with domestic  water supply. However, they have suffered from degradation dur primarily to farming.  The community depends on agriculture as their main source of income. Of  particular note is coffee, which is a key crop of the area. As such, the areas  have been plagued by deforestation, pollution (from chemicals) and soil  erosion. The livelihoods of the communities have therefore been impacted and  stand to suffer further without preventive measures being put in place.

 

Rio Bueno Watershed  Management Unit

 

The Rio  Bueno Watershed is a smaller sub-section of the Roaring River  and Dunn’s River Watershed. It is currently managed by the Urban Development  Corporation (UDC). In previous years, the area was used for agriculture,  particularly cattle and pimento farming. However, degradation of the area has  resulted in a shift in the land-use, and agriculture is no longer a sustainable  livelihood. The project will attempt to rehabilitate this area, particularly Malvern Park.