Of all the Caribbean islands, Jamaica has the highest number of endemic plants and birds. The country is a veritable natural paradise, home to many varieties of unique flora and fauna in land, air, and water. The Cockpit Country – spanning more than 5,000 acres covering parts of St James, Trelawny, St Ann, St Elizabeth and Manchester – is Jamaica’s richest biodiversity site. It houses 79 species of birds, 28 of which are endemic to Jamaica; the highest local diversity of amphibians and reptiles; 13 of the island’s 21 bat species; and more.
Additionally, Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, which has been listed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site, is recognised universally as “a vital natural resource, essential for absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, cleansing the air and reducing global warming; necessary for conserving the highly erodible soil of the area, preventing soil erosion and landslides, and is supplies more than 40 per cent of Jamaica’s population with water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and commercial use.”
The Blue and the John Crow Mountains of Jamaica are two of the Caribbean’s 290 Key Biodiversity Areas (BirdLife International, 2010), two of the Caribbean’s 48 Wholly Irreplaceable Sites (BirdLife International, 2010), one of the 200 globally important sites for the conservation of plant biological diversity (WWF/IUCN 1997), and two of the 78 most irreplaceable protected areas for the conservation of the world’s amphibian, bird and mammal species (Bertzky et al., 2013).
According the Institute of Jamaica, “Among the variety of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems are dry and wet limestone forests, rainforest, riparian woodland, wetlands, caves, rivers, seagrass beds and coral reefs. The global value of Jamaica’s biodiversity is indicated by the number five ranking of its endemic flora and fauna amongst islands worldwide.”
How thankful are Jamaicans for Jamaica? It’s a wonderful country teeming with enthusiasm, brilliance, talent and heritage as lush as our verdant landscapes. There is much in this little island to be grateful for, and here at diGJamaica, we don’t need a holiday or observance to celebrate Jamaica … we believe in celebrating the uniqueness of this country all year round. Follow our What’s Right With Jamaica series to see our weekly highlight of something refreshingly special in the island. You can also suggest topics for the series by sending emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.