Blue Mountains (file photo)
Blue Mountains (file photo)

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Jamaica is to benefit from the technical expertise of a team from Germany to develop the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park.

The team is from the Bavarian Forest National Park, located in south-eastern Germany, which has utilised the concept of community tourism to drive socio-economic development. The Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT), which manages the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, is seeking to partner with the Bavarian Forest National Park to implement this approach. Speaking at a JCDT workshop at the Hotel Four Seasons in Kingston on May 19, Director of the Visitor Centre at the Bavarian Forest National Park, Christian Binder, said the team is looking forward to working with the JCDT to explore the “many opportunities to develop the nature park.”

Binder and the Manager for Tourism at the Bavarian Forest National Park, Erik Aschenbrand, are in Jamaica sharing relevant information with several stakeholders, including Maroon communities.

During the workshop, themed: ‘National Parks as Drivers for Socio-economic Development and Nature Conservation’, the team provided advice on how local communities could replicate the experiences of Germany’s national park.

In the meantime, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, welcomed the partnership, noting that Jamaica is “hoping to follow the lead” of the Bavarian Forest National Park.

“We look forward to a continued working relationship and hopefully we can duplicate, on a smaller scale, what (you have accomplished),” he said.

Vaz said the Blue and John Crow Mountains inscription on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List opens up new socio-economic opportunities for communities in and around the site.

He added that the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park could become a prime area for business and income generation through the development of various tourist attractions.

“The park presents a high value market tourism opportunity which would be supported by the development of environmentally friendly attractions. These could include a zipline, picnic areas, nature trails, off-road tours and seminars on the biodiversity, including indigenous plants (as well as) cave exploration,” the Minister said.

Vaz noted that the park also provides countless opportunities for historical, cultural and natural research, particularly in nutraceuticals.

The workshop was held in association with the Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) Project, which is operated by the German Development Cooperation and the Caribbean Public Health Agency on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Caribbean Community.

The CATS project is also funding the workshops and activities associated with the preparation of an updated management plan for the national park and World Heritage site.