Jamaica’s Goat Islands, which were previously the intended location for a port development project that would have destroyed key habitats and ecosystems, are now to be declared a national wildlife sanctuary. The Jamaica Environment Trust reports:
The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is celebrating the decision by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) to establish the Goat Islands in the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) as a wildlife sanctuary for endemic and endangered species, including the critically endangered endemic Jamaican Iguana (Cyclura collei). The decision was communicated in a letter from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to JET dated December 13, 2017.
NEPA has entered into a co-management arrangement with the UDC to manage the Goat Islands, which they also wish to establish as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Biosphere Programme. In its letter to JET, NEPA also welcomes the decision by the UDC and states its intention to engage with JET and other stakeholders in developing and implementing its plans for Goat Islands, which include its development as an Ecotourism attraction.
In 2014 Goat Islands came under threat following the announcement that the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese interests to construct a transhipment port at the site, which is in the PBPA. JET, along with managers of the PBPA, the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (CCAM), and other stakeholders launched a Save Goat Islands campaign objecting to the GOJ proposal and calling for the decision to be revoked. Then, in 2016, Jamaican Prime Minister, the Honorable Andrew Holness announced that the Goat Islands was no longer being considered for the transhipment port, and committed to protecting the area.