Jamaica Conservation & Development Trust

History of the JCDT

A History of JCDT (1987/8 – 2014/15)

The following is partially based on a presentation made by Mr. Michael White, a founding member of the JCDT at the organisation’s 21st Anniversary reception, March, 2010

The Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT) was founded in 1987 and incorporated in 1988.


The following were features of the international and national environmental scene in 1987:

  • United Nations sponsored global recognition of the need to integrate environmental considerations to ensure sustainable development
  • Government of Jamaica (GOJ) institutional strengthening to satisfy commitment given at the United Nations – Beach Control Authority + Watershed Protection Commission + Wild Life Protection Act under single management – Natural Resources Conservation Authority (eventually established in 1991)
  • Scientific Non-Government Organisations existed, e.g. Natural History Society, Jamaica Geographical Society, Geological Society of Jamaica, and they focused on scientific/environmental education and advocacy.

JCDT beginnings

Driven by Joy Douglas – who personally pulled together the first JCDT Board led by Dr. Blossom O’Meally-Nelson – all environmentalists but with relevant technical competencies and regional constituencies – Ossie Lee (Accountant), Prof. Ivan Goodbody (Zoologist), Joy Douglas (Urban Planner), Dr. Ted Aldridge (Sanitary Engineer), Janos Beyer (Architect), Michael White (hydro-geologist), Sylvie Grizzle (Hotelier/Negril), Dr. Margaret Hodges (Medical Practitioner), Dr. Conrad Douglas (Chemist), Jeanne Robinson (Geographer), Patrick Tenison (Farmer/Trelawny), Karl Aiken (Zoologist), Ann Haynes (Zoologist).

JCDT Vision

The vision for JCDT was for an organisation that:

  • Was Issues-based
  • Had a national membership (including Chapters)
  • Had a strong, committed, technically competent Board of Directors
  • Was not an umbrella group
  • Was Guided by core values – non-confrontational, solution oriented approaches/science and knowledge based initiatives, partnership with Government and other organisations (guided by mutual respect), financial prudence, accountability and sustainability
  • Had three main areas of focus: Protected Area Mgmt, Environmental Education, Advocacy
  • Aimed to implement physical changes in addition to talking about the issues


Establishment of the organisation

First meetings in 1988 at Building Dept, CAST (now UTECH) and UWI

1st Executive Director – Ms. Joy Douglas

Mission: to promote an integrated approach to the management of Jamaica’s natural and man-made environment by assisting selected sectors involved in environmental management

Following in the tradition of NGOs in other sectors e.g. community development, which assist and work closely with government, recognising that GOJ will not have sufficient resources for the task of managing the nation’s environment.


Signed off on Protected Areas Resources Conservation Project (PARC) Project

JCDT responsible for two deliverables:-

  • Preparation of Plan for a System of National Parks and Protected Areas
  • Establishment of National Park Trust Fund


2nd Executive Director – Dr. David Smith

  • Spinning off local chapters – Montego Bay
  • Involvement with The Nature Conservancy
  • Increasing membership


Involved in accessing funding for conservation of Jamaica’s environment – through lead role in:-

  • First Debt-for-Nature Swap in the English-speaking Caribbean approved by Bank of Jamaica in September, 1991 – to capitalise the National Parks Trust Fund (USAID, Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico and The Nature Conservancy funds and technical assistance)- actual completion of negotiations and receipt of first payment in 1992
  • Signing of the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative (first country to do so) – reduced Jamaica’s debt under the American PF480 programme by 80% and interest payments on the remaining 20% to go into a Trust Fund to support environmental projects (establishment of the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica - EFJ)

In addition, the organisation had:

  • A Growing staff
  • Successful MoBay Chapter
  • Successful Fundraising – MacArthur Foundation, Caribbean Conservation Association, The Nature Conservancy, private sector, poster and card sales
  • Partnership with GOJ – Fisheries Dept. – Lobster Closed Season (JCDT sourced complimentary hotel room/board for Fisheries Division officers to enforce season) – 1991 – 1994


  • Growing staff
  • Creative fundraising e.g. Art show
  • Trying to raise funds for National Parks Trust Fund – not so easy


  • NRCA indicated their approval of the Protected Area System Plan submitted in 1992; JCDT anticipates major role along with other NGOs e.g. PEPA, NCRPS
  • PARC Phase II signed in October following glowing commendations for PARC Phase I


  • Whilst JCDT growing stronger – recognised regionally and internationally – participation in SIDS conference in Barbados, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • More NGOs being established
  • Funding sources drying up
  • PARC Project Phase II – NRCA assigned responsibility of the National Parks operations to the PIOJ but Park staff employed to JCDT
  • JCDT revamped mission: dedicated to sustainable development through the promotion of responsible environmental management , education and advocacy


  • Administrative problems within the PARC Project slowed work significantly
  • Advocacy through media e.g. Herald weekly column
  • JCDT introduced the Natural Resources Conservation Authority to the IUCN
  • JCDT working with National Environmental Societies Trust (umbrella organisation)
  • JCDT worked with Tourism Action Plan to prepare guidelines for ecotourism


  • JCDT continues to influence national policy
  • JCDT and the Cockpit Country – Windsor Cave Project
  • JCDT provides technical assistance to NGOs working in protected areas e.g. Negril, Port Antonio, Port Royal
  • PARC II support for the Parks phased out – need to identify new funds to start in 1997 – USAID/TNC Parks in Peril Project
  • Trust Fund investments continue to earn well but no new funds, so support for the two existing Parks is straining the Fund. JCDT arranged a meeting between World Bank officials and the NRCA to discuss the possibility of Global Environment Facility support for Jamaica’s Protected Areas System
  • JCDT Executive Director presents at several international meetings and re-elected as IUCN Regional Councillor – North America and the Caribbean
  • JCDT organises the Caribbean’s first environmental exposition – Green Expo at the National Arena – 12,000 visitors


  • JCDT participates on several national sub-committees
  • Challenges continue with protected area management projects across the island
  • JCDT work in the Cockpit Country – Windsor Cave Project continues
  • Following JCDT led approach to World Bank Global Environmental Facility – funds approved from them to support development of a proposal for funding of the Cockpit Country National Park


JCDT’s 10th year

  • JCDT Annual Report – stated “we have seen the creation of the National Parks system and the declaration of 3 national parks. Two debt conversions have led to the formation of the JNPTF and the EFJ. The JNPTF donated over US$1million helping ensure the survival of the system beyond USAID funding ... Unfortunately, Government funding to the National Park system continues to diminish, each year seeing a substantial reduction of support. The parks remain open because of Trust Fund support and project funding, since the government has been tardy in facilitating the collection of user fees. If this situation continues, the parks may close when their current projects end in 2001”.
  • NRCA Green Paper on Jamaica’s System of Protected Areas approved by Cabinet (based on JCDT prepared System Plan)
  • Rio Grande Valley floods – report submitted to Cabinet re: roads and bridges and landslide at “Friday” which first occurred in 1994
  • Windsor Great Cave management continued with funds to JCDT from the World Wildlife Fund – joint project with NRCA and Windsor Research Station. JCDT on Steering Committee for development of proposal to the World Bank GEF. Susan Otuokon (no longer with the JCDT and based in Montego Bay, was the consultant to prepare the proposal)
  • Green Expo 1998 held successfully

1999, 2000 & 2001

Challenging years

  • Windsor project continued
  • Green Expo 2000 held successfully
  • Dr. David Smith moved on in 2000 (after 10 years service)
  • Mr. Robert Stephens appointed Actg. Exec. Director 2001
  • Dr. Blossom O’Meally retired as Chairman, handing over to Mr. Billy Heaven who soon resigned and Mr. Oswald Lee took over the reins.
  • Moved from 95 Dumbarton Ave (7yrs) to 22b Old Hope Rd. to save funds due to major rent increase


3rd Executive Director - Mrs. Susan Otuokon

  • Windsor Cave project finished - handed over to Windsor Research Station
  • Green Expo 2002 held successfully but with many challenges
  • Signed new delegation agreement with the NRCA for management of the BJCMNP (to 2012)
  • Moved back to Dumbarton Ave (but #29 instead of #95)

2003 – 2005

  • Programmes become more focused - building on achievements every year with detailed planning & reporting
  • Institutional Self-Assessment shows improvement over last one in 2002
  • JCDT Strategic Plan – 2005 – 2009

    Revised Mission: To promote environmental conservation and sustainable development, with particular emphasis on the BJCMNP, for the benefit of Jamaica and our people

  • BJCMNP Management Plan – 2005 – 2010

    - Approved by NRCA in 2005

2005 – 2010

  • Further strengthening of the organisation
  • Green Expo 2009 held successfully but with numerous challenges in terms of participation, sponsorship and visitation
  • JCDT recognised as an expert in Protected Area Management and Environmental Education
  • Institutional Assessment and Strategic Planning 2010 - 2014
  • Susan Otuokon moved on after almost 8 years as Executive Director

2011 – 2015

  • The organisation struggled under 2 different Executive Directors until the return of Dr. Susan Otuokon at the end of 2012
  • Ms. Gabrielle-Jae Watson joined the organisation as Chief of Corps in May, 2014. She has an M.Sc. in Conservation Biology and 4 years work experience
  • Work focused on technical support and lobbying for the revised nomination for the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • The organisation worked on making improvements to the National Park’s recreation areas in order to increase income generation to support management

JCDT | Protecting & Preserving Our Future

The JCDT appreciates the involvement and support of our Partners, Donors and Sponsors

  • National Environment & Planning Agency
  • Forestry Department
  • Jamaica National Heritage Trust
  • Environmental Foundation of Jamaica
  • Forest Conservation Fund
  • Pear Tree Press
  • JEP Logo Tagline small
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