The Annotated Ramsar List: Jamaica


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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance


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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Jamaica on 7 February 1998. Jamaica presently has 3 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 37,765 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Black River Lower Morass. 07/10/97; St. Elizabeth; 5,700 ha; 18º04'N 077º48'W. Conservation Area, Game Reserve, Protected Area. The largest freshwater wetland ecosystem in Jamaica and the Caribbean. The site includes mangrove swamps, permanent rivers and streams, freshwater swamp forest, and peatlands. It is a biologically diverse and extremely complex natural wetland ecosystem that supports diverse plant and animals communities which include rare, endangered and endemic species. The site supports human habitation, livestock grazing, fishing, tourism and cultivation. Ramsar site no. 919. Most recent RIS information: 1997.

Mason River Protected Area, Bird Sanctuary and Ramsar Site. 06/12/11; Clarendon, St. Ann; 82 ha; 18°11'38"N 077°15'46"W. Protected Area, Natural Heritage Site. 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. Most recent RIS information: 2011.

Palisadoes - Port Royal. 22/04/05; Kingston; 7,523 ha; 17º55'N 076º49'W. Protected area. Located on the southeastern coast just offshore from the capital Kingston, the site contains cays, shoals, mangrove lagoons, mangrove islands, coral reefs, seagrass beds and shallow water, thus hosting a variety of underrepresented wetland types. Endangered and vulnerable species occurring in the area include American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), green turtle (Chelonia mydas), Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). To date 26 endemic new species have been discovered in the area. Historic and cultural values are very high, as the site includes forts on the dunes and part of the city of Port Royal, said to have been the largest city in the Americas, which sank in an earthquake in 1692 and is now a unique archaeological treasure. A management plan is in place, and the University of the West Indies operates research facilities. Ramsar site no. 1454. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Portland Bight Wetlands and Cays. 02/02/06; St. Catherine, Clarendon; 24,542 ha; 17º49'N 077º04'W. Protected Area. Located on the south coast of the island, just west of Kingston, Portland Bight (or bay) includes some 8,000 ha of coastal mangroves, among the largest contiguous mangrove stands remaining in Jamaica, as well as a salt marsh, several rivers, offshore cays, coral reefs, seagrass beds, and open water. The site constitutes a critical feeding and breeding location as well as a general habitat for internationally threatened species such as the cave frog (Eleutherodactylus cavernicola), the Jamaican boa (Epicrates subflavus), the endemic hutia or coney (Geocapromys brownii), and the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus). An endemic cactus (Opuntia jamaicensis) is also considered endangered under CITES. More than 3,000 fisher families make their livelihoods in the Bight, harvesting mostly finfish but also lobster, shrimp, oysters, and conch, and there are important sugar plantations in the surrounding area. Threats are feared from over-hunting and -fishing, pollution from sugar wastes, mangrove destruction for aquaculture, and invasive species. Ramsar site No. 1597. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

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