The Blue Mountain Forest Reserve is nestled in the picturesque landscape of the Blue Mountains. Often confused with the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, this landmark is larger than the park and has some of the highest quality forests found in Jamaica. The Blue Mountain forest reserve stretches across the eastern section of island, over four parishes: St. Andrew, St. Thomas, St. Mary and Portland.
Its beauty and rich history continue to attract tourists and locals alike who are seeking to enjoy a different side of Jamaica from the usual sun, sand and sea.
Here are seven facts you may not know about the iconic Blue Mountain forest reserve.
1.The Blue Mountain forest reserve is the largest forest reserve in Jamaica. It spans over 45,457.95 hectares and was gazetted on December 1, 1950.
2. Jamaica’s highest peak is situated within the Blue Mountain forest reserve. It is located on the border of Portland and St. Thomas and sits at an elevation of 2256 meters (7402ft).
3. In 2015, the Blue and John Crow Mountains which is within a section of the forest reserve, received international recognition and was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This is because of the natural and cultural heritage that it possesses. It is the only mixed site (having both natural and cultural heritage) in the
Caribbean sub-region, and one of 32 mixed sites in the world.
4. The Blue Mountain Reserve is the home to the largest butterfly in the western hemisphere: The Jamaican Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio humerus). They tend to grow to approximately three (3) inches and have an average wingspan of six (6) inches. Its bright yellow or blue bands and patches along their dark bodies make them easy to spot. The creature is indigenous to Jamaica and has been listed as endangered since 1993.
The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio homerus)
5. The Blue Mountain Forest Reserve contains one of the most extensive areas of Closed Broadleaf Forests. These are primary forests with very little to no signs of human activity and disturbance. Being tranquil and undisturbed by human forces, the Blue Mountain Forest Reserve is the perfect habitat for the vast variety of fauna and flora species, many of which are indigenous to the region.
6. The Blue Mountain forest reserve is a popular tourist hotspot with both local and international visitors. Hikes along the scenic trails, birdwatching, sightseeing, camping and swimming are some of the great ways that tourists enjoy the natural and tranquil forest environment.