Jamaica CHM Annual Report for 2020 -2021

Suzanne Davis (Senior Research Officer) and Shemere Lawes (Research Officer)

Natural History Museum of Jamaica, Institute of Jamaica, 10-16 East Street, Kingston

Overview

The Jamaica Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM) contributes to the implementation of national and global biodiversity targets as well as to the development of national biodiversity and development strategies. Our programme (Figure 1) includes data and information services and products, public awareness, supporting conservation research and environmental policy efforts, building knowledge and technological capacities.

Figure 1. Key components of the Jamaica CHM programme

RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS

Much research effort went into responding to the 17 information requests received for the year, and into new, re-developed and updated web pages on the Jamaica CHM website.

Information sharing and networking continued to be the category of requests that had the largest number of records in our Information Request Database. These requests primarily involved CHM staff in directing enquirers to resource persons, to hardcopy and online publications; circulating news, events, job notices and calls for grant proposals. There was a noticeable increase in the requests for biodiversity and conservation information that supported policy documents and technical reports. Input and/or comments were provided on:

  • a UNESCO proposal for an International Geodiversity Day
  • National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Tracking Tool
  • Draft Knowledge Management Component of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
  • documents for special meetings of international working groups associated with the Convention on Biological Diversity (e.g. Subsidiary Body on Implementation and the Subsidiary Body on Science, Technical and Technological Advice
  • Consultancy document being developed for Jamaica through the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Caribbean programme
  • National Invasive Alien Species Strategy and Action Plan
  • the testing of the new Biosafety Clearing-House online portal
  • BIOPAMA request on how the Coronavirus presence in Jamaica was affecting operations for Mason River Protected Area

Our records of local and overseas requests for data and information on biodiversity, its uses and management received by the Jamaica CHM show, among other things, the sectors from which enquiries arise. The variety of sectors include protected areas and natural heritage, health, agriculture, culture and traditional knowledge, tourism and recreation, and science.

Figure 2. Number of Requests by Information Category received for period 2020 – 2021

Figure 3. Locations for Information Requests received by the Jamaica CHM

With regards to the development of the Jamaica CHM website, the home page was updated with the Fisheries Act of 2018, and periodically updated with a Publication of the Month. There were eight (8) publications of the month that were featured on the home page. The topics were: Earth Day, Biodiversity and Pandemics, Mental health and Nature, Species loss and Ecosystem Degradation, Christmas Plants, Protected Areas and the Importance of Bees.

The newest additions to our Species Diversity web page was the Jamaica CHM publishing of species lists of the Endemic Ferns of Jamaica, Endemic Orchids, Endemic Butterflies, Commercially Valuable Shell and Finfish, and a Publications section featuring scientific and technical publications. The list of 80 ferns, including species, varieties within species and hybrids as a result of cross-breeding, was the joint effort of the Jamaica CHM, colleagues from herbaria at the Universities of Vermont and Florida and our museum’s Botany Department. We especially thank our overseas colleagues, Susan Fawcett and Weston Testo respectively, for their great input towards ensuring the fern list was updated and reflects current taxonomy.

The web page for the Biodiversity Information for Development (BID) Jamaica Project was updated with maps created by Dr. S. Davis showing biodiversity research in Jamaica for the period 2010-2015, with a focus on the Blue and John Crow Mountains.

Figure 4. Species Diversity page for Jamaica CHM website (www.jamaicachm.org.jm)

PUBLIC EDUCATION & OUTREACH

A total of 16 issues of the Jamaica CHM newsletter, Biodiversity News was published and  circulated via email to subscribers. A special issue of the Biodiversity News was published on May 21 in celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity 2020 (May 22). The week of national activities in celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity – IDB- (May 22, 2020) was shared with Newsletter Subscribers. Activities featured were:

* four lunch-time presentations and a panel discussion hosted by the Ministry of Economic

Growth and Job Creation

*A virtual vox populi developed by the Jamaica CHM and shared with our newsletter

subscribers, in celebration of Jamaica’s biodiversity. The topic was “Our Health and Recreation

in Nature” and explored natural outdoor spaces and nature-based locations in Jamaica that

have contributed to persons mental and/or physical health and enjoyment.

A research poster was subsequently developed using the results of the virtual vox populi.

Dr. S. Davis produced a video entitled “Appreciating our Migratory Birds” which contributed to a webinar hosted by the Education Department on October 9, 2021. The video contributed to celebrations for World Migratory Day, celebrated October 8-10 and was shared via the NHJ YouTube channel. Ms. S. Lawes presented during the NHMJ’s Live Science Fun Zone series on November 13, 2020. The topic was “DIY Tie and Dye”, which involved the use of plant materials eg. turmeric, beetroot, spinach to dye fabrics.

Figure 6. Shemere Lawes, Research Officer-JaCHM during the DIY Tie and Dye Presentation

Two social media posts were done for the period:

* Jamaica CHM Products and Services (Nov 9, 2020)

*World Wildlife Day (Mar 3, 2021)

CHM staff also provided review comments to the Education Department for preparation of wider NHMJ social media posts on biodiversity.

DATABASES AND ONLINE PORTALS

The CHM manages the Jamaica Invasive Species Database (JISD). This publicly available and online database provides crucial information on how invasive alien species are introduced to Jamaica, their location, the extent of their invasion, among other things.(Figure 7). For more information on JISD see www.cidebox.com/jamaicainvasives or www.jamaicachm.org.jm/jamaica-invasives . The web hosting arrangements were reviewed with the National Spatial Data Management Branch who host the JISD and provide technical support. Dialogues were held with the teams of  data contributors and validators about entry and review of records for the database

Figure 7. Home page of Jamaica Invasive Species Database

In consultation with the United Nations Environment Programme and a local Planning Committee for Training in the Biosafety Clearing-House (BCH) for Jamaica, plans were initiated for two BCH  training workshops. The workshops would introduce private sector and academic personnel, as well as regulators and policy-makers to the BCH and teach them how to navigate the BCH portal. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and mandated restrictions on gatherings, the workshops scheduled for March 31 – April 3 have been postponed until further notice.

The Jamaica CHM also maintains a Directory of Environmental Organizations and Networks, available from the website. Other databases, maintained in-house, include an inventory of biodiversity publications sourced through the Jamaica CHM and the Information Request Database.

A number of Geographic Information System (GIS) workshops and webinars hosted by the National Spatial Data Management Branch were advertised through the CHM, and NHMJ staff participated in at least two workshops and one webinar.

LIBRARY PUBLICATIONS

The Jamaica Clearing-House Mechanism actively contributes to the collections of the Science Library of the Natural History Museum of Jamaica by sourcing biodiversity and biosafety related publications, new to the Library. The following peer-reviewed papers were received electronically and shared with the Library:

  • Best Practices in Citizen Science for Environmental Monitoring
  • What is effective climate adaptation? Case studies from the Least Developed Countries
  • Igniting Research for Outdoor Recreation: Linking Science, Policy, and Action (forwarded to Science Library)
  • Editorial Essay on Protected Areas and Covid-19
  • New publication: Valuing a Caribbean coastal lagoon using the choice experiment method: The case of the Simpson Bay Lagoon, Saint Martin
  • The Right of Access to Public Information

COMMITTEES & WORKING GROUPS

Participation in national committees and international initiatives, affords the Jamaica CHM opportunities to exchange scientific and technical information in support of policy and conservation planning. Furthermore, we have engaged in scientific and technological collaborations through our representation on the programmes and projects of the entities listed below:

  • Jamaica CHM Steering Committee (CHM staff facilitated 3 meetings for the period)
  • Key stakeholder consultations for development of Sixth National Report to the CBD
  • national Biodiversity & Game Birds Sub-Committee
  • national Invasive Alien Species Working Group
  • Land Information Council of Jamaica
  • national Protected Areas Committee
  • BIOPAMA Liaison for Jamaica
  • Informal Advisory Committee to the CHM of the CBD