The little school of Chandler's Pen Primary and Junior High in Chateau, Clarendon, has taken on a major new role in protecting and understanding Jamaica's vast range of flora and fauna with the opening of a new biodiversity centre there on Friday, June 8.
The centre houses the Biodiversity Awareness Project and is the result of a long-term commitment between TransJamaican Highway Limited and Jamaican Infrastructure Operator Limited (JIO) with the Natural History Museum of Jamaica, a division of the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ). It is intended to help communities gain awareness about biodiversity.
Jamaica is known to be extremely rich in the range of its biodiversity and is home to many endemic species including mammals, butterflies, reptiles and hundreds of plants. The island may have more than 500 species of snails, for example, many of which can only be found in Jamaica. Clarendon is home to many of these unique animals.
As the importance of preserving global biodiversity increases daily, it becomes ever more vital for Jamaica to understand and protect its natural environment. The Caribbean is considered one of a handful of global biodiversity hotspots - and Jamaica is one of the most important islands in terms of its large number of endemic species. The new biodiversity centre is a vital step towards Jamaica securing its wealth in biodiversity.
Along with the biodiversity programme's curriculum, the centre represents the first of its kind in Jamaica and is expected to provide individuals with an exclusive educational opportunity, blending direct interaction with the local environment with the expansion of creative sensibilities through a focus on biodiversity and the benefits of a sustainable environment.
Special guests at the opening included Colin Murray, financial and administrative manager at JIO, and Patrice Russell, acting education outreach officer from the IOJ.