Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in Jamaica

Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in Jamaica

At a glance

Completed programmes
Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Forestry Department, Min. of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Countries involved
Total budget
4,48 M€
GCCA priority area(s)
Effects of climate change on the region

Jamaica, like many small island developing states, is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change. In general, the island is subject to the threat of tropical weather systems and faces direct threats from climate change because of its geographical location. Recent studies (2012) concluded by the Climate Studies Group of the University of the West Indies, Mona, using models downscaled from global and regional climate models, have pointed to the increasing variability in climate parameters, as well as projected changes in temperature and precipitation. Other studies predict a doubling of the frequency of category 4 and 5 storms by the end of the 21st century, despite a decrease in the overall frequency of tropical cyclones (Bender et al, 2010). Coastal and upland communities whose livelihoods are climate-sensitive are physically and economically vulnerable to climate risks.

GCCA's action programme
Geographical scope
Country groups
Initial GCCA/GCCA+ contribution
4,480,000.00 €
Specific objectives

Rehabilitate and improve management of selected watersheds to reduce downstream run-off and associated pollution and health risks.

Restore and protect coastal ecosystems to enhance natural buffers and increase resilience.

Integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation into relevant national policies and plans, enhance institutional capacity and facilitate awareness building amongst Jamaica’s population to better adapt to climate change.

Key achievements

Under the watershed rehabilitation component:

  • Reforestation of selected water management units is well under way – 350 hectares or 87.5% of the upwardly revised target of 400 hectares have been replanted.

  • Four Local Forest Management Committees (LFMCs) have been established – namely in Dallas Castle and Constitution Hill (Hope River WMU), in Westphalia (Yallahs River WMU) and in Sawyers (Rio Bueno WMU). These communities are also participating in alternative livelihoods programmes.

  • Some 110 000 ha of forest crown lands (100% of the target) have been assessed, and a geo-referenced database is being developed. The listing and description of approximately 2 666 ha of crown lands have also been submitted to the Forestry Department’s Legal and Enforcement Division to start the process of gazetting.

  • A partnership has been established with the United States Fire Service (USFS); a 3-member team from USFS visited the island and undertook preliminary work in September 2012. Draft forest fire management plans have been developed and circulated to stakeholders for review and feedback.

  • To monitor forests resources in a systematic manner and track changes caused by climate variations, 21 permanent sample plots have been established, in Bellevue, Grand Ridge, in Moy Hall, in the Blue Mountain Peak, in Grants Pen, St Thomas (mangrove forest) and in Hyde Hall, Trelawny. Data collection and baseline measurements have been completed for all these plots.

  • Agroforestry and sustainable livelihoods activities have started in selected WMUs. 35 000 timber and 30 000 fruit tree seedlings have been distributed. Four demonstration plots have been established, of which one in Westphalia, the most elevated community in Jamaica. 200 farmers have already been trained in good agronomic practices.

Under the coastal ecosystem restoration and protection component:

  • Reconnaissance work has been completed for all the marine protected areas targeted by the project (in Montego Bay, Negril, Palisadoes/Port Royal, Portland Bight, Refuge Cay, Great Morass-St Thomas and Ocho Rios).

  • Thirty data loggers for the measurement of sea surface temperature have been procured and installed in the marine protected areas of Ocho Rios, Negril, Montego Bay and Portland Bight. Data are collected at regular intervals and passed on to the experts in charge of developing the coastal ecosystem monitoring database.

  • Technical assessment work for re-establishing sand dunes and re-planting mangroves in degraded coastal areas has been completed and approved by the Board of the National Environment and Planning Agency.

  • Approximately 5 ha of mangroves have been replanted in Portland Bight.

  • To enhance the chance of success of planned mangrove replanting in Refuge Cay, a garbage exclusion device is being installed.

  • The refurbishing of the coastal plant nursery in Discovery Bay, St Ann is close to completion. This work, undertaken in collaboration with the University of the West Indies, will enable the National Environment and Planning Agency to deliver coastal plants and services for ecosystem rehabilitation work.

  • Overall, 23 mooring buoys have been installed in the Palisadoes/Port Royal, Negril and Montego Bay marine protected areas. The installation of these items help protect the coral reefs and seagrass beds by providing safe places to anchor boats.

  • Unfortunately, 74 acres or 3 000 m² of seagrass that had been planted up to the end of September 2012 did not survive the impact of Hurricane Sandy. A special technical review team is to convene to decide on the way forward.

  • Eight grants have been awarded to support alternative livelihoods projects. They went to the following projects:

    • 3 projects for beekeeping, organic farming and ecotourism in Bluefields Bay, Westmoreland.
    • 2 projects for beekeeping and heritage/ecotourism in the Portland Bight protected area.
    • 1 project including the setting up of a palm nursery for carbon sequestration and Irish moss (a seaweed) harvesting, in Negril.
    • 1 beekeeping project in St Thomas.
    • 1 eco-tourism and “edu-tourism” project.

Under the institutional component:

  • A climate change awareness campaign has been rolled out in 8 parishes, namely Trelawny, St James, St Ann, St Thomas, Hanover, Clarendon, St Elizabeth and Westmoreland, and across 14 schools.

  • The procurement of GIS software has been completed, and a spatial database has been developed. A spatial data sharing mechanism has also been developed and is operational. It is available to planners, the agricultural sector, legal firms and insurance companies, the tourism sector, engineering and construction companies, and development agencies.

  • A policy and institutional review is under way. Regional consultations were notably held in October and November 2012 by means of 3 regional workshops (in Kingston, Mandeville and Montego Bay). Good progress is being achieved towards the completion of a Climate Change Policy  Framework and Action Plan.

  • A pilot project on risk and vulnerability assessment has begun, with special focus on the Negril area. Sensitisation workshops and two scoping missions have taken place.

  • A pilot public education project is also under way.

Further information is available in the project Facebook page.

Main activities per result

Watersheds are rehabilitated through slope stabilisation measures such as reforestation of denuded hillsides.

To achieve this, local forest management committees are being established and/or strengthened in selected water management units (WMUs). Reforestation and agroforestry activities are being undertaken in selected WMUs. A comprehensive assessment of all forested lands has been undertaken, and a geo-referenced database developed. Additional forest reserves have been declared, and the development of a fire management programme and river protection structures in selected areas is being undertaken. Sustainable livelihoods and economic activities that constitute alternatives to current unsustainable practices are being promoted.

This component is implemented by the Forestry Department.

The resilience of coastal ecosystems to the impact of climate change is enhanced through restoration and protection of selected ecosystems.

A management plan for the effective management of selected marine protected areas, with activity zones delineated in three areas, is to be adopted. Improvements will be made to the database for monitoring changes in coastal ecosystems. At the practical level, sand dunes will be re-established, mangroves replanted in degraded coastal regions, and seagrass beds restored; these activities have recently started. Coastal protection measures and/or structures will be established in selected areas. A scheme will be developed to identify and assess the feasibility of alternative livelihoods, with grants awarded to develop these livelihoods.

This component is implemented by the National Environment and Planning Agency.

Institutional and local-level capacity is enhanced through increasing capabilities and raising awareness.

To achieve this, a policy and institutional review is to be conducted to identify the capacity needs of the government sector, and the interventions required to address priority needs. A climate change awareness campaign will be designed and implemented and a data-sharing mechanism established. Pilot projects will be undertaken on public education, and risk and vulnerability assessment.

This component is implemented by the Environmental Management Division and the Meteorological Service of Jamaica.

More information is available on the project website.

Challenges and lessons learned (selected)
  • Engaging partners and community groups from the beginning of the project is important for buy-in.

  • In a project implemented by multiple agencies, it helps to conduct preparatory training and to designate focal points in each agency involved. Project procedures and systems should also be formalised and standardized. 

  • Working with agencies which have responsibility for core areas and implementation structures and systems in place supports smoother execution.

  • Project duration should include a provision for inception and procurement procedures, which tend to be lengthy.

  • Specialised firms should be used to implement activities in areas such as communication and awareness raising, so that technical agencies are left to focus on their own specific area of competence.

Way forward (selected)
  • Components will be doubling up on resources to reach targets within the time allocated for the project. The procurement of additional project personnel as well as other resources has started to support outstanding activities.

  • It has been proposed to divert funds from components that are slow in spending to those which must spend in specific periods (e.g. the planting season).

  • The 8-month time extension granted to this programme is welcome, as it will give time to monitor and document the good practices emerging from some of the pilot activities under way. 


“It is knowledge, having accurate and relevant information, that will help us address the enormous challenges of climate change. I firmly believe that stakeholder participation is an integral part of good governance. Informed citizens can have a tremendous influence on the decision-making process and can support the dialogue for national development.”

Hon. Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, on the occasion of the launch of a public awareness and education campaign under the GCCA project (source: Jamaica Information Service).