John Crow Mountains

Year of compilation: 2007

Site description
18004’ N; 76022 W The most easterly mountain on the island, almost the entire area is a Forest Re-serve. The John Crow Mountains comprise white limestone overlain by marine sandstones and shale. The range rises gently from the east to a maximum height of 1140 m, but ends abruptly along a steep escarpment to the west. The Rio Grande separates the John Crow Mountains from the Blue Mountains; the ranges join at Corn Puss Gap (640 m), the boundary of the parishes of Port-land and St Thomas. Unlike the sharp peaks of the Blue Mountains, the summit of the John Crow Mountains is a slightly tilted plateau, with an un-usual landscape of sinkholes and outcrops.

Key biodiversity
This IBA is internationally important for the Endan-gered Jamaican Blackbird Nesopsar nigerri-mus (EN), the Ring-tailed Pigeon Patagioe-nas caribaea (VU), and the two Amazon Par-rots Amazona agilis (VU) and A. col-laria (VU), and the near-threatened Crested Quail-dove Geotrygon versicolor and Blue Mountain Vireo Vireo modestus. Twenty-seven of the island’s 28 endemic bird species are found here (except Pseudoscops grammicus which, however, may occur at lower altitudes) and a few searches for Pterodroma caribbaea (CR) have taken place in the mountains without success. These were not comprehensive searches.

Non-bird biodiversity: Within the forests, approximately 50% of the flow-ering plants are endemic to the island, and about 40% of these are endemic to the area. At least 10 species appear on the 2006 IUCN list as Vulner-able. Tree ferns and bromeliads are characteristic of the wetter locations. Among reptiles & amphibians in the park four are considered at risk (CR) or (EN): Eleutherodacty-lus orcutti (CR), E. jamaicensis, E. andrewsi and Osteopilus wilderi (EN), also E. pentasyrin-gus (VU) and E. glaucoreius (NT). Few caves exist in the John Crow Mountains and there are no records of bats taken there, however as not all bats in Jamaica are cave-roosting, it is possible that some tree-roosting species may be present in the area. Jamaica's Giant Swallowtail Pterourus homerus (EN) occurs in the John Crow Mountains where collecting and habitat disturbance has reduced its numbers significantly.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Threats include Clearance of native forest for subsistence farming and for commercial crops, invasion of exotic plant species, some collecting of epiphytes for the local market. A new threat developed after the hurricane of 1988, White-tailed Deer Odocoileus vir-ginianus escaped from an attraction and have multiplied and spread on the north side of the John Crow Mountains.

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
Bird counts were initiated in 2005 in sections of the John Crow Mountains, especially near the bridge with the Blue Mountains. Early in the history of the park, the JCDT introduced education programmes; and park rangers monitor activities within the boundaries.

Protected areas
Established as a National Park in 1989, this was the first reserve to be managed by a local NGO, the Jamaica Conservation & Development Trust, but it was not until September 19, 2002, after lengthy negotiations, 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.

Habitat and land use
Wet limestone forest occurs at altitudes of less than 800-900 m. where dominant species are Calophyllum calaba, Calyptronoma occidentalis, Drypetes alba, Heliconia caribaea and Cyathea grevilleana; while wet slope forest over sedi-metary/igneous substrata occurs on the steep western slopes. Montane limestone thicket covers much of the high plateau area and is dominated by Clusia havetioides and C. portlandiana (VU). Rondeletia subsessiliflora (Rubiaceae) (VU), an endemic treelet, is confined to the John Crow Mountains, and even there very scarce. About 87 vascular plant species are strictly endemic to the Blue and John Crow Mountains. Of these, 47 species are only known from the parish of Portland, 23 species only from St Andrew and 17 only from St Thomas. Of Jamaica's seven endemic genera, representatives of at least one are found in the Blue and John Crow Mountains: Odontocline laciniata. Genera which are well represented by endemic species in the flora of the park are Pilea (12 spp.), Lepanthes (12 spp.), Psychotria (12 spp.) and Eugenia (11 spp.). It is a major watershed for Portland & St. Thomas, and for cash crops, including coffee, sugar cane and banana plantations.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: John Crow Mountains. Downloaded from on 09/04/2020.