Did you know that the Stephney-John’s Vale Forest Reserve is one of the largest forest reserves in Jamaica. It covers 6,675 hectares, stretching across the parishes of St. Ann and Clarendon.
Stephney and surrounding communities are heavily dependent on agriculture and the area is renowned for the cultivation of vegetables, ground tubers, legumes and to a limited extent pastoral farming (ruminants - cows and goats).
Here are five quick facts about this forest reserve:
1. The Stephney-John’s Vale Forest Reserve has a high species-count with species richness of 148. Pinus caribaea (Caribbean Pine), an introduced species, is the dominant species in the reserve followed by Swietenia macrophylla (Honduras Mahogany), another introduced species. The other three (3) species in the top five (5) species found in the reserve are native to the island.
2. This forest reserve is part of Forest Management Unit (FMU) # 3. The Greenock forest reserve, Kellits-Camperdown forest reserve and Camperdown forest estate also forms part of the FMU.
3.The Stephney-John’s Vale Forest Reserve is an upland catchment for the rivers of the Rio Bueno-White River watershed in St. Ann and makes minor contributions to the Rio Minho watershed in Clarendon. It is important that this catchment is preserved since 28.16 % of households in Clarendon and 2.8 % of households in St. Ann use springs and rivers as a source of water.
4. There are three Local Forest Management Committees (LFMCs) that exist within the communities across the forest reserve. These communities facilitate the participation of residents and community-based organizations in the management of the forest reserve. They are Stephney, Hessen Castle and Grants Mountain LFMCs.
5. The Mason River Protected Area Bird Sanctuary and Ramsar Site, a wetland which hosts Jamaica’s only inland bog, is located in the vicinity of the forest reserve. The property was designated as Jamaica’s fourth Wetland of International importance in 2011 under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.