|Location||Jamaica, Hanover Parish,Westmoreland Parish|
|Central coordinates||78o 19.13' West 18o 19.21' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A4i|
|Altitude||0 - 280m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2007|
Ornithological information Studies of avifauna in the Royal Palm Reserve (within the Negril Environmental Protection Area) consist of at least 74 species, of which 54 are residents, 17 are winter migrants and 3 are summer migrants. Seventeen of the 29 endemic species have been reported for the entire Negril Environmental Protection Area. The creation of ponds in the area has resulted in an increase of waterbirds populations. The most notable change is the increase in West Indian Whistling Ducks Dendrocygna arborea. This species was reported from the site but not observed in 1986 (Sutton, 1987) but the population was more than 90 in 2006. This is likely to be the result of protection of the site from hunting and disturbance. The Royal Palm Reserve is one of the most important refuges in the world for this species. Other species of interest include: Porzana flaviventer (Yellow-breasted Crake), Aramus guarauna (Limpkin), White-crowned Pigeons Patagieonas leucocephala and the Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis. The Fish River and Negril Hills provide habitat for common endemic and migratory species.
Site description The Negril Environmental Protected Area (18° 19’ 21.34” N, 78° 19’ 13.68” W) is situated at the western end of Jamaica, in the parishes of Westmoreland and Hanover. It consists of the entire Negril watershed - an area of 37,100 ha including unique ecosystems in the Negril Great Morass, the Royal Palm Reserve, and the Fisher River and Negril hills. The Negril Great Morass is Jamaica’s second largest fresh water wetland, with an area of c.2,289 ha. The Morass is limited by the Fish River Hills to the east, the Negril Hills to the south, a narrow beach strip (Long Bay) and the Caribbean Sea to the west. The wetland boundary is the same as that utilized for the designation of the wetland as a game reserve under the Wild Life Protection Act (NEPA) and determined in the Negril Environment Protection Plan prepared by NEPT in collaboration with NEPA (NEPT & NRCA, 1997). It follows ecological boundaries based on soil type, with the dominant soil being sedge and mangrove peat. The Royal Palm Reserve is located within the southern section of the Negril Great Morass with its most southern boundary being the South Negril River. The Reserve covers approximately 121 ha, comprising approximately 89 ha of forested peat lands and the remaining area occupied by open bog or marsh. The Fish River and Negril hills are composed of limestone which permits the surface flow of the North and South Negril rivers. The water makes its way to the morass which serves as a catchment area. The area is a major tourism and recreational asset. In 1991, the population in the Negril EPA stood at 19,911 with majority of the growth occurring in the town of Negril (Town Planning Department, 1994). Population within 4 km of the Royal Palm Reserve increased by 37% between 1970 and 1991(CL Environment, 2001). Population growth is directly linked to Negril’s expanding tourism industry and together both trends have placed intense pressure on natural resources. Negril is Jamaica's third largest tourist resort.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea||resident||2001||-||poor||A1, A4i||Vulnerable|
|White-crowned Pigeon Patagioenas leucocephala||resident||2002||55 individuals||poor||A1||Near Threatened|
|Jamaican Mango Anthracothorax mango||resident||2002||7 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Red-billed Streamertail Trochilus polytmus||resident||2002||32 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Vervain Hummingbird Mellisuga minima||resident||2002||4 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Tody Todus todus||resident||2002||23 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Woodpecker Melanerpes radiolatus||resident||2002||32 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Becard Pachyramphus niger||resident||2002||16 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Elaenia Myiopagis cotta||resident||2002||16 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Pewee Contopus pallidus||resident||2002||17 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Sad Flycatcher Myiarchus barbirostris||resident||2002||1 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Rufous-tailed Flycatcher Myiarchus validus||resident||2002||27 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Stolid Flycatcher Myiarchus stolidus||resident||2002||14 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Vireo Vireo modestus||resident||2002||39 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|White-chinned Thrush Turdus aurantius||resident||2002||23 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Arrowhead Warbler Dendroica pharetra||resident||2002||11 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Oriole Icterus leucopteryx||resident||2002||18 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Yellow-shouldered Grassquit Loxipasser anoxanthus||resident||2002||19 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Orangequit Euneornis campestris||resident||2002||39 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Spindalis Spindalis nigricephala||resident||2002||25 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Euphonia Euphonia jamaica||resident||2002||19 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Negril||Environmental Protection Area||25,900||protected area contained by site||25,900|
|Negril Bay/Bloody Bay - Hanover FIS||Fisheries Sanctuary||0||protected area is adjacent to site||0|
|Negril Coastal forest NR/SciR||Nature Reserve||0||protected area contained by site||0|
|Negril Swamp forest NR/SciR||Nature Reserve||0||protected area contained by site||0|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||major|
Other biodiversity Other fauna found in the Negril area includes invertebrates (especially butterflies, dragonflies, ants, termites, bees, wasps, spiders and endemic land snails, ) and herpetofauna (including the the endemic Jamaican slider turtle (Trachemys terrapen and several species of endemic lizards and frogs), Trachemys terrapin is the only native freshwater turtle species known to occur on the island (Tuberville et. al., 2005). Unregulated and unsustainable hunting and sale of turtles (outside the reserve) is a critical issue needing immediate curtailment to protect this species.
Management considerations Wetlands: The most important threat is the change to the natural hydrological regime caused by canalization of the rivers more than 50 years ago. This has caused the wetland to dry out, reducing open water bodies and increasing the risk of fires most of which are lit by people.. There is currently no capacity to manage fires in the area. The drying out of the wetland encourages hotel and residential development on the western margins of the wetland, with consequent loss of habitat, including of very rare remnants of lowland rainforest. Fauna are at risk from predation by introduced species like the Indian Mongoose, Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonairensis and rats., Some parts of the wetlands are drying out and are being taken over by African Tulip (Spathodea campanulata), while Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) tends to occlude the rivers and ponds reducing habitat for fish and birds.. The almost complete loss of large trees other than Royal Palms in the palm forest (due to harvesting illegal, agriculture, fire, grazing and hurricane damage has resulted in the loss of middle and upper storeys of the forest. With no effective canopy, Wild Slip/Potato (Ipomoea tiliacea) dominates the ground cover reducing natural regeneration of plants. Cattle grazing is also a problem and despite fencing there are still sightings within the site. Wetlands are still used as informal dumps for rubbish, although this practice has been much reduced. Hills: The surrounding hills are threatened by large scale residential and resort development Inappropriate agricultural practices are increasing in the hills, resulting in loss of forest and increased frequency of fire and increased risks of flash flooding
Protection status The majority of the lands are public, under the jurisdiction of Urban Development Corporation, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica and Ministry of Agriculture.
Conservation response The Institute of Jamaica has conducted periodic surveys of insects, and inventory of species occurring in the Royal Palm Reserve. Negril Environmental Protection Trust is the NGO’s that manages the site. Some of the activities that they conduct include ongoing education and outreach efforts.
References Haynes-Sutton, A. and D. B. Hay (2007), Williams, S.A. (2007).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Negril. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/05/2013
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