The Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT), manager of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP) launched the 25th Anniversary of the Park on Monday 11th December 2017, celebrated as International Mountain Day. The event was staged at the Altamont Court Hotel starting a 3:30pm. The 25th Anniversary of the National Park will be celebrated on February 25th, 2018.
International Mountain Day was designated the 11th of December by the United Nations General Assembly in 2003. Observed every year, the day highlights as well as creates awareness about the significance of mountains in our environment. They preserve ecosystems, protect and maintain natural resources and sustain the cultural heritage of different peoples and countries globally. This year’s theme is “Mountains under Pressure: climate, hunger, migration.”
Commemorating International Mountain Day, the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust used the opportunity to embark on a journey through time featuring the Blue and John Crow Mountains as a National Park and it significance especially to Eastern Jamaica. The Blue and John Crow Mountains which is just over 41,000 hectares protects and supplies the water sources in the eastern parishes – Portland, St. Thomas, St. Mary and Kingston and St. Andrew. According to Dr. Susan Otuokon, Executive Director at the JCDT, “The mountains aid in climate change mitigation and adaption as the vast forest absorbs the excess carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere through human activities such as use of carbon-based fuels. Climate change is evident around us and people need to be aware that our mountains serve an important role in countering the effects of global warming.” The World Heritage Site status of the Park recognises the natural heritage of the mountains with its high biological diversity and numerous endemic plants and animals and the related cultural heritage of the Windward Maroons. The Park has significant potential for sustainable tourism through its recreational areas at Holywell, Portland Gap and the Peak Trail and in the neighbouring communities. JCDT has been working with local communities to ensure they benefit through the promotion of community conservation and sustainable livelihoods.
The National Park was designated and gazetted on 26th February, 1993 under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act. Celebrating the 25th Anniversary the JCDT has a host of launch activities. Outside of the official launch on Monday 11th, there is the “Christmas Breeze” family fun day event set for Sunday December 17th. There will be monthly events starting with the Peak Hike Challenge on January 27th and thereafter groups are invited to call or email the JCDT to arrange their own Peak Hikes. Sunday, February 25th will be the main event at Holywell – Symphony in the Mountains – featuring The Abeng Tour and screening of the Nanny, Queen of the Maroons documentary. Sponsors on board so far include the Ministry of Tourism/Tourism Enhancement Fund, Environmental Foundation of Jamaica and the National Water Commission.