MEDIA RELEASE -  December 14, 2011

The Mason River Protected Area (MRPA) in Clarendon has been designated as Jamaica’s 4th Wetland of International Importance (also known as a Ramsar Site) under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

The designation certificates were presented to Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, Minister of Housing, Environment, Water and Local Government and Mr. Peter Knight, CEO of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) at the Fifth Pan-American Regional Meeting of the Convention on Wetlands held recently at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, December 6-10, 2011. 

The designation is significant given the work that NEPA and the National Ramsar Committee have been undertaking to have Jamaica’s wetlands recognised under the Ramsar Convention.  

Mason River Protected Area is significant not only as an inland wetland but also as the only such site so designated in the entire Caribbean.   Given its designation the site will now be known as the Mason River Protected Area, Bird Sanctuary and Ramsar Site (MRPA-RS). 

The ecological significance of the MRPA-RS is based on the number and types of plant species found on site (approximately 430) with 90% being indigenous and about 11% being endemic. MRPA-RS has plants that are exotic, indigenous, endemic and even endangered and is the only place in Jamaica where four different types of carnivorous plants can be found.  The MRPA-RS also boasts a range of animal species including mammals, birds, insects, crustaceans, amphibians and reptiles. The endemic Vervain Hummingbird is of special note because it is the second smallest bird in the word with a maximum size of 2 inches (5 cm.). 

Jamaica’s other Ramsar Sites includes  the Black River Lower Morass, the Palisadoes-Port Royal Protected Area and the Portland Bight Wetlands and Cays.  

There are five types of wetlands worldwide and Jamaica is significant in that there are four of the five types here, namely: marine (coastal lagoons, rocky shores, coral reefs), riverine (along rivers and streams) estuarine (deltas, tidal marshes, mangrove swamps) and plaustrine (marshes, swamps, bogs).  Mason River Protected Area, Bird Sanctuary and Ramsar Site (MRPA-RS) is an inland plaustrine wetland.

The Convention on Wetlands is an international agreement to protect wetlands which was signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. The Convention indicates the broad framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

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