Caribbean World Heritage Sites: Blue and John Crow Mountains
by Karen Rollins Sep 5, 2022
“World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity… World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.” – WHC website.
The Caribbean is home to 16 cultural and nine natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites spread over 14 territories. These sites speak to the history, culture, and development of the region, and its outstanding natural beauty.
Let’s get to know the Caribbean’s World Heritage Sites – the Blue and John Crow Mountains in Jamaica.
The Blue and John Crow Mountains are a rugged and extensively forested region in south-east Jamaica stretching across the parishes of St Andrew, Portland, St Thomas, and St Mary.
The Blue and John Crow National Park covers over 40,000 hectares (which is approximately 4.5% of Jamaica’s total landmass) and is recognised for its biodiversity which includes flora and fauna endemic to the island and, in some cases, is only found in this specific area.
The two ranges have also played an important role in the history of Jamaica as they provided refuge for hundreds of people fleeing slavery. The indigenous Tainos, and then Maroons, found food and shelter in the forest and the Maroons have a deep, ancestorial connection with the site.
The mountains were listed as a mixed cultural and natural World Heritage protected area in 2015.
According to the UNESCO website: “The Blue and John Crow Mountains property lies within the Jamaican Moist Forests Global 200 priority eco-region and is part of one of the 78 most irreplaceable protected areas for the conservation of the world’s amphibian, bird and mammal species.”
It adds: “There is an exceptionally high proportion of endemic plant and animal species found in the property, Jamaica having evolved separately from other landmasses. In addition, the property hosts a number of globally endangered species, including several frog and bird species.”
In the Blue and John Crow National Park, you can hike, picnic, bird watch, and camp within three areas – Holywell, Portland Gap, and the Blue Mountain Peak Trail. There are over 15 kilometres of tracks which give visitors ample opportunity to explore this unique and beautiful area.