|Location||Jamaica, Saint Catherine Parish|
|Central coordinates||76o 57.00' West 17o 53.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2|
|Altitude||0 - 200m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2007|
Ornithological information This IBA is internationally important for the West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea (VU) and Plain Pigeon Patagioenas inornata, as well as the restricted range (and endemic subspecies) Bahama Mockingbird Mimus gilvus hillii. Other species include the three Myiarchus flycatchers. The Jamaican Pauraque Siphonorhis americanus, last seen more than 100 years ago, is rumoured to persist in the Hellshire Hills. The mangroves provide nesting, roosting and feeding locations for sea and shore birds and many North American Neotropical migrant birds add to the biodiversity.
Site description 17053’ N; 76057’ W. Hellshire Hills, together with Portland Ridge and Brazilletto Mountain, is part of the largest remaining relatively intact dry limestone forests in Central America and the Caribbean. The whole area is called The Portland Bight Protected Area, it is large with a total area of 1,876 km2 making it Jamaica's largest protected area so far. (see Conservation section below). Many of the hillsides that appear as intact forests are in fact secondary forests. Great Goat Island is an uninhabited 1 km2 limestone cay roughly 1 km offshore from the Hellshire Hills, Little Goat Island is "joined" to it by an impenetrable morass of mangrove swamp; it differs significantly in that it is flat, primarily sandy in composition, and heavily im-pacted by man and animals.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|West Indian Whistling-duck Dendrocygna arborea||resident||2007||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|White-crowned Pigeon Patagioenas leucocephala||resident||2007||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Jamaican Lizard-cuckoo Coccyzus vetula||resident||2006||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Owl Pseudoscops grammicus||resident||2007||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Pauraque Siphonorhis americana||resident||-||unknown [units unknown]||-||A1, A2||Critically Endangered|
|Jamaican Mango Anthracothorax mango||resident||2007||unknown [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Red-billed Streamertail Trochilus polytmus||unknown||2006||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Vervain Hummingbird Mellisuga minima||resident||2006||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Tody Todus todus||resident||2006||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Woodpecker Melanerpes radiolatus||resident||2006||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Elaenia Myiopagis cotta||resident||2006||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Sad Flycatcher Myiarchus barbirostris||resident||2007||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Rufous-tailed Flycatcher Myiarchus validus||resident||2007||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Stolid Flycatcher Myiarchus stolidus||resident||2007||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Vireo Vireo modestus||resident||2006||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Bahama Mockingbird Mimus gundlachii||resident||2007||5,000 individuals||poor||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Oriole Icterus leucopteryx||resident||2006||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Yellow-shouldered Grassquit Loxipasser anoxanthus||resident||2006||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Jamaican Euphonia Euphonia jamaica||resident||2006||-||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Portland Bight||Protected Area||187,615||protected area contains site||0|
|Portland Bight and Ridge||National Park||809||protected area is adjacent to site||0|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
Land ownership The Urban Development Corporation (UDC), a quasi governmental organization owns most of the Hellshire Hills and both of the Goat Islands
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||major|
|energy production and mining||-|
Other biodiversity Other biodiversity In total, 271 plant species were identified in Ad=ams' and DuQuesnay's botanical survey of Hellshire (Woodley, 1970), of which 53 (19.6%) are endemic to Jamaica; several are endemic to this area. Hellshire Hills provides the last known habitat of the recently rediscovered (1990) Jamaican Iguana Cyclura collie, an endemic species and Jamaica's largest land animal. Herpetological surveys were conducted from 1992 to 1998 in the interior of the Hellshire plus baseline data from three pitfall trapping grids were obtained in 1997. A total of 18 species (2 frogs, 12 lizards and 4 snakes – including the Jamaican Boa Epicrates subflavus (VU)) were recorded, at least 12 of which are endemic to Jamaica. Eight of the species were not known from the Hellshire Hills, and another eight were known only from the periphery. One snake of the genus Tropidophis captured in the south-central portion of the Hills may rep-resent a distinct species endemic to the study site. In terms of reptile diversity, the Hellshire Hills is one of the most important remaining natural areas in Jamaica (Wilson & Vogel 2000). In addition, the Hellshire Hills are thought to be the last remaining stronghold in Jamaica of the skink Mabuya mabouya. The Blue-tailed Galliwasp, Celestes duquesneyi (IUCN DD 2004), last recorded on Portland Ridge in the 1930s, was rediscovered in Hellshire in 1997. The Jamaican Hutia or Coney Geocapromys brownie (VU) and Jamaican Fig-eating Bat Ariteus flavescens (VU) are also found in Hellshire.
Management considerations The details of a proposed management agreement between CCAM and UDC have not been forthcoming. Moreover, actual management within the PBPA is in its infancy. Indeed, the enforcement of environmental laws, including those pertaining to illegal tree cutting, has been conspicuously lacking. Overall, limited resources have rendered protected areas management in Jamaica close to nonexistent, and subsidiary legislation has not been enacted to permit planning action. One potentially positive development is the recent election of a new government, the Jamaica Labour Party. One can only hope that they will do a better job of environmental stewardship than their predecessors, who led an 18-year reign of environmental degradation and neglect. The area is impacted by pig-hunters and people extracting logs.
Protection status In 1999 the Government of Jamaica declared a new protected area -- the Portland bight Protected Area (PBPA); covering 87,615 hectares, this is the island’s largest protected area. Management authority was subsequently delegated to a local NGO, the Caribbean Coastal Areas Management (CCAM) Foundation. That delegation was challenged by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC). In 2006 the government delegated management responsibility for those areas to the UDC.
Conservation response Dr. Byron Wilson leads the Iguana Recovery Project. It conisists on a survey of the herpetofauna of the Hellshire Hills, Jamaica.
Acknowledgements Byron Wilson (in litt. 2007)
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hellshire Hills. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/06/2013
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