About Us – History
The Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT/Green Jamaica) was established in 1987 by a group of concerned professionals who recognized that Jamaica’s economic development could not be sustained without adequate attention to the conservation of the island’s rich natural resources. The founding members saw the need for a non-government organisation to partner with government and the private sector to encourage this attention, and to implement conservation activities.
From its inception, the JCDT/Green Jamaica had an interest in the Blue Mountains and implemented a number of projects including improvement of the Blue Mountain Peak trail. In 1989, the JCDT became a major player in the Protected Areas Resource Conservation (PARC) Project - a USAID/GOJ-NRCA project that established Jamaica’s first national parks and established the framework for an island-wide System of Protected Areas. Over the years, although JCDT maintained its focus on the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, it was involved in the work of other protected areas directly, e.g. Montego Bay Marine Park and the proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area through Windsor; or indirectly through networking with other NGOs.
The JCDT initiated several environmental education projects including the biennial Green Expo since 1996, the National Schools Environmental Competition between 1994/5 and 1995/6 (forerunner of the current Schools’ Environment Programme) and numerous radio programmes e.g. Earth Runnings on IRIE FM in 1994/5. In addition, the JCDT has played a major role in the formulation and advancing of several national environmental policies and projects including the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica.
Between 1998 and 1999, the JCDT began to be affected by decreasing funding from all sources and a major downsizing of the Ranger Corps resulted. By 2000 there was a loss of senior management staff. The Board put in place interim management arrangements in 2001, whilst revising administrative procedures, strategic planning and seeking more permanent management arrangements. Despite the difficulties (similar to those faced by many other environmental NGOs) the organisation continued its conservation work in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park with a focus on the recreational areas and biological monitoring. Green Expo was held as usual in 2002 and Misty Bliss - the National Park’s annual celebration was opened to the public in 2002. By mid-2002, a new Executive Director (Mrs. Susan Otuokon) was appointed, a number of long-standing Directors stepped down and were replaced by new Directors and a new Executive (chaired by Mr. Robert Stephens) was elected.
In seeking to streamline its activities, the JCDT Board decided to focus more strategically on the management of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, which in itself is a major, multi-faceted task. This task requires a close working relationship with the organisation’s co-management partners, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Forestry Department. In addition, it requires the formation and strengthening of partnerships with other government, non-government and private sector organisations directly, and through the JCDT’s membership. On September 19, 2002, after lengthy negotiations, the JCDT signed a delegation agreement with the National Environment and Planning Agency for management of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, renewing its commitment to one of Jamaica’s premier natural and cultural heritage sites.