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PRESS RELEASE - November 07, 2006

NEPA Reopens Canoe Valley Interpretive Centre
Mini museum,  part of proposed Nature Reserve

The Canoe Valley Interpretive Centre, a mini-museum and information centre at the Alligator Hole River in Canoe Valley, Clarendon was reopened to the public on Wednesday, November 01, 2006. The Centre, which is owned and operated by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), was closed for refurbishing at the beginning of the year as a result of damage caused by bad weather. 

The Centre is used as a resource tool by schools in Manchester and Clarendon.  Chief Executive Officer of NEPA, Dr. Leary Myers, told his audience that the re-opening of the Centre is a continuation of work that began in the area a few months ago, in preparation for possible designation as a protected area. 

“In recent months, the Agency has begun a fact-finding mission to log the various plant and animal species, the people who live and work here and the overall ecological value of the area,” Dr. Myers said.  

A repository of information on the flora and fauna of the proposed protected area of Canoe Valley, the Centre sits above the roadway, which winds through Clarendon to Manchester passing through many small districts and the towns of Milk River, Guts River and Alligator Pond. Complete with its Information Centre, picnic area and sanitary facilities, the area has become a popular rest stop for tourists and local visitors alike, who pause to enjoy its solitude and the crystal clear waters of the Alligator Hole River. The water overlooked by the building housing the Centre is also home to three manatees, rare and protected Jamaican animals. The manatees have lived in the river since the 1980s when they were confiscated from fishermen.

Canoe Valley was selected to become Jamaica’s first protected area because of its rich biological diversity. The proposed nature reserve covers some 3000 acres and is made up of mangrove swamps, limestone and herbaceous forests. It is home to seven bat species, four amphibian species, 23 reptile species and 93 species of birds, many of which are found no where else in the world. The area is also rich in historical artifacts from the Taino populations who inhabited the area. 

Mayor of May Pen, His Worship, Councillor Milton Brown, thanked Dr. Myers and the Agency for the work being done to document the area. The Parish Council, he said, supported any work that would lead to the preservation of the area’s biological, historical and cultural resources. He also asked for the Agency’s support in ensuring that approved developments “take into consideration the rich biological diversity and beauty.” 

Guest Speaker, Mr. Franklin McDonald, a consultant with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), challenged the audience to learn as much as possible about the area and help to protect it. He noted that the historical and biological value is too important to lose.  

Attendees included Mr. Ronald Jackson, Acting Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and representatives from various ministries and agencies, as well as students and teachers of schools in and around the area



National Environment & Planning Agency
10 and 11 Caledonia Avenue
Kingston 5
Tel: 754-7540
Fax: 754-7595/6