Located in the eastern side of the island, almost the entire area is also a Forest Reserve, but much has been altered from its natural state and is now used for forestry, coffee production or subsistence farming. The Grand Ridge of the Blue Mountains covers 16 km across the eastern part of Jamaica and much of the range is over 1800 m, the highest section being Blue Mountain Peak, comprising Middle Peak (2256 m), the highest point of Jamaica, and East Peak (2246 m). Lesser peaks and ridges radiate from these, while to the west of the Grand Ridge are the lower Port Royal Moun-tains. Wet slope forest occurs on the northern slopes of the Blue Mountains below 1000 m. It is characterized by large trees (c. 26 m high, 70 cm dbh. Climbers are abundant. Upper montane forest is the most extensive natural forest type of the Blue Mountains. These forests protect the watershed of Jamaica's capital city, Kingston.
This IBA is internationally important for the Endan-gered Jamaican Blackbird Nesopsar nigerri-mus (EN), also the Ring-tailed Pigeon Pata-gioenas caribaea (VU), and near-threatened Crested Quail-dove Geotrygon versicolor and Blue Mountain Vireo Vireo modestus, among the 23 of the island’s 28 endemic. The last time the endemic subspecies of Golden Swallow Tachycineta euchrysea (VU) was reported was in 1989 in the Blue Mountains.
Non-bird biodiversity: Within the forests, approximately 50% of the flower-ing plants are endemic to the island, and about 40% of these are endemic to the area. At least 10 spe-cies appear on the 2006 IUCN list as Vulnerable. Tree ferns and bromeliads are characteristic of the wetter locations.
Among reptiles & amphibians in the park five are considered at risk (CR) or (EN): Eleutherodactylus alticola, E. andrewsi, E. nubi-cola, E. orcutti and Anolis reconditus , although the latter does not appear in the IUCN list, but is re-stricted to the Blue Mountains; plus E. glau-coreius (NT). Six bats have been recorded from Green Hillls, Cinchona and Hardwar Gap with Ariteus flavescens (VU) being the most en-dangered, while two are near threatened, and the classification of Eptesicus (fuscus) lynni is still in debate but not recorded by IUCN.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Commercial forestry occurred in these mountains in the past: up to the 1970s hardwoods were planted; in the 1970s and 1980s Pinus caribaea was planted on a very large scale. Commercial forest activities have been scaled down since Hurricane Gilbert destroyed many of the plantations in 1988. Over many years land clearance took place for agriculture, e.g. for coffee plantations and small farming, permitting the expansion of invasive species. However, the management of the Blue & John Crow Mountain National Park has initiated a number of projects to control Pittosporum undula-tum and other invasives, and undertaking replant-ing of native species is ongoing in some areas.
Regular bird counts were initiated in 1998 in a limited area around Mount Horeb, but in 2005 they were expanded to other sections of the Blue Mountains. Early in the history of the park, the JCDT introduced education programmes; and park rangers monitor activities within the boundaries. The Forest Department has strong incentive programmes on the north side of the Blue Mountains in the BuffBay-Pencar region, this includes the following:
1. Private Planting Programme (PPP)
2. Approved Farmer Programme (AFP)
3. Declared Forest Management and Protected Area Programme (DAP)
Established as a National Park in 1989, this was the first reserve to be managed by a local NGO, the Ja-maica Conservation & Development Trust, but it was not until September 19, 2002, after lengthy negotia-tions, that a delegation agreement was signed with the National Environment and Planning Agency for management of the park. As with other reserves managed by NGOs, funding has been and continues to be problematic, thus restricting action.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Blue Mountains. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 19/01/2020.