Jamaica’s fourth Wetland of International Importance
The Caribbean state of Jamiaca has designated its fourth Ramsar site, called Mason River Protected Area, Bird Sanctuary and Ramsar Site (82 hectares, 18°11'38"N 077°15'46"W). As summarized by Ramsar's Nury Furlan, the new site occupies a flattish area with several surface depressions, ponds, and sinkholes that seasonally store surface water, located in the hilly countryside of central Jamaica. All of its wetland types have an important ecological function in preventing downstream flooding by absorbing precipitation. The site is a representative and rare example of an upland peat bog and scrub savannah. There are approximately 430 plant species found there, with 11% of endemism, some of which are listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, such as Bactris jamaicana, Calyptranthes nodosa, Cordia troyana and Hyeronima jamaicencis. The site also contains several species of the moss Sphagnum spp. which are essential for the existence of the bog. Likewise, it is also important for the endemic Mellisuga minima, the migratory species Oporomis agilis, and such carnivorous plants as the native Drosera capillaries, Urticularia spp., and Dionaea muscipula. It currently acts as an educational resource for students within the area and throughout Jamaica. Threats include invasive species, illegal bird shooting, fires, illegal removal of trees, and encroachment. Ramsar Site no. 1990.