Let’s Save Jamaica’s Portland Bight Protected Area!

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Let’s Save Jamaica’s Portland Bight Protected Area!

Thanks to Emma Lewis (Petchary’s Blog) for an excellent summary of this issue. Text below is excerpted from Petchary’s Blog Post of 6 Sept 2013. SCSCB has been working to raise awareness on this issue with Emma and other partners in Jamaica, including highlighting that the Portland Bight Protected Area is a Ramsar site and that Jamaica is a signatory to the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, where they pledged to conserve 20% of their marine and coastal environment by 2020. Thanks also to Ted Eubanks for his incredible album of photos, taken for the Caribbean Birding Trail Project during an assessment trip last summer. Please share this post widely with your friends and colleagues and be sure to sign the petition!

CBT Project Team landing their boat on one of the pristine beaches at Portland Bight Protected Area, 2012.

CBT Project Team landing their boat on one of the pristine beaches at Portland Bight Protected Area, 2012.

Some of you have probably heard about the latest threat to an incredibly important area for biodiversity in the Caribbean: a proposal to build a logistics/ trans-shipment port in the Portland Bight Protected Area (the PBPA) in Jamaica by China Harbour Engineering Company.

PBPA is the largest protected area on the island of Jamaica. It was created in 1999 by the Jamaican Government under the Natural Resources Conservation Act. It encompasses 1,876 sq km of coastal land and sea, including cays such as the Goat Islands. It is home to birds, iguanas, crocodiles, manatees, sea turtles and fish, as well as other flora and fauna. It includes three fish sanctuaries and endangered habitats such as dry limestone forest and mangrove.

This large area of diverse landscapes and natural treasures is now threatened by reported plans for this development.There is a petition site where you may register your concern about this here: http://chn.ge/1ecZdCO I urge you to sign and share with your friends and contacts who care about our increasingly fragile environment.

On August 23, environmentalists and civil society groups announced that they plan to take legal action against the Jamaican Government (the Ministry of Land, Environment and Climate Change and the Attorney General) after the Minister of Environment himself signaled that the project is under consideration, during a visit to China. Since then, very few details have been forthcoming; but much of the discussion has been on the outlying Goat Islands only. However, it must be emphasized that any bulldozing of the islands or dredging of the surrounding marine environment would have a devastating effect reaching far beyond this area. At this point we do not know how much larger the project plans are, although it has been reported that CHEC are looking for a total of 3,000 acres for the logistics hub. We still await details from the Jamaican Government.

To continue reading this post on the Petchary blog, click here.

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