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A General Description of the PBPA

At 1,876.2 km2 (724.4 miles2) or 187,615 ha the PBPA is by far the largest protected area in Jamaica. Its land area [519.8 km2 (200.7 miles2) or 51,975 ha] is 4.7% of the island of Jamaica, and its marine area [1,356.4 km2 (523.7 miles2) or 135,640 ha] is a significant part of Jamaica’s shallow shelf.
A General Description of the PBPA

Map of the Portland Bight Protected Area

In comparison, the land area of the PBPA is a bit larger than the area of the Blue Mountain/John Crow Mountain National Park [488.4 km2 (188.6 miles2) or 48,835 ha], and larger than each of the independent nation states of Barbados, Grenada (and its outer islands), Antigua & Barbuda and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

More than half of the land area of the PBPA is in its natural state, in dry limestone forests [210.3    km2 (81.2 miles2) or 21,025 ha] and wetlands [82.0 km2 (31.7 miles2) or 8,200 ha].  The rest is cultivated in sugar cane, or is used for human settlement.

About 50,000 persons live within the boundaries of the PBPA in about forty-four (44) residential communities.  Of the approx. 16,000 fishers in Jamaica, about 4,000 (about 25%) are based in the coastal communities of the PBPA, the highest concentration in Jamaica.  The vast majority of the households in the PBPA fall at or below the poverty line.

Industrial activity in the PBPA includes portions of four sugar estates (Monymusk, New Yarmouth, Bernard Lodge, and Innswood), several small farming and livestock entities, several limestone mining and sand/aggregate quarrying operations, two international shipping ports (Port Esquivel and Rocky Point), two electricity-generating plants, and a bauxite-alumina plant (ALCOA).

With substantial marine and terrestrial areas, hosting industry, commerce and human settlements in close proximity to wilderness ecosystems, the PBPA is a microcosm of an island state in urgent need of sustainable development.