Eight volunteers from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Guyana and Jamaica completed a 10-day orientation of Jamaica’s UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park - on Friday, September 22. The camp was the first of its kind in the Caribbean and was led by the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT); manager of the National Park.
The World Heritage Youth Action Camp is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Education Programme which aims to increase awareness, knowledge and skills among young adults about world heritage management. The initiative which began in 2008 encourages youth to play an active role in preserving and promoting World Heritage Sites.
Just over 1000 locations around the world have been designated as World Heritage Sites because of their universal value to the global community. Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains is the first and only mixed heritage site in the Caribbean and is recognised for both the biodiversity of its natural heritage and the unique culture of the Windward Maroons.
“The ongoing preservation of the Blue and John Crow Mountains and other World Heritage Sites around the globe will ultimately rest on developing an appreciation of these invaluable resources in the next generation”, explained Executive Director of the JCDT, Dr Susan Otuokon. “We believe that the youth camp was a useful initiative for creating awareness of the unique natural and cultural treasures we have here in Jamaica”, Dr. Otuokon added.
The designation of the Blue and John Crow Mountains as a mixed site was of particular interest to the volunteers. Along with tree planting and invasive species control, the volunteers visited the Windward maroon communities at Charles Town, Moore Town and Bowden Pen and were impressed by the way in which the natural and cultural elements of the national park coexisted and complemented each other.
Lauren Grant, a volunteer from Guyana, was particularly interested in the sustainability of World Heritage Sites. “I wanted to see how the outsanding universal value of the area could be sustainably preserved especially given the expected growth in tourism that comes with inclusion on the World Heritage Site list. My expectations were not only met but exceeded by leaps and bounds.”
The World Heritage Youth Camp in Jamaica was sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism in recognition of the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.
JAMAICA CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT TRUST