A Jamaican Path from Hills to Ocean

Partners: The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining (Public Gardens Division and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority)

Key thematic areas

The Hills to Ocean project will reduce the vulnerability of Jamaican ecosystems from the hills to the ocean, in accordance with the guiding principles of integrated landscape management. It will also improve the resilience of communities within the targeted watersheds to withstand the adverse effects of climate change.


Jamaica’s economy is dominated by the services sector, mainly tourism, and there is a high reliance on the island’s natural resources. The country is one of the world’s largest producers of bauxite and alumina. However, mining is contributing to deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution. Although Agriculture accounts for a small proportion of gross domestic product, it employs about 15% of the labour force. The main crops for export include sugar, bananas and coffee. The sector is dominated by small cultivators of cash crops and is highly vulnerable to hydrometeorological events, including drought, excessive rainfall and hurricanes, which have been exacerbated by climate change.

Jamaica’s diverse flora and fauna face anthropogenic and natural threats, including urban sprawl, insufficient waste management, widespread deforestation and climate change. These are exacerbated by the weak implementation of environmental laws and policies. The country is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its geographic location and topography, and is expected to experience more frequent and intense hurricanes, flooding, drought, as well as sea level rise, storm surges and saline intrusion in coastal areas.


To increase resilience to climate change and reduce poverty through an integrated and sustainable landscape management approach in three selected watershed management units.


Jamaica is the third-largest island in the Caribbean, with a land area of about 10,991 square kilometers. Its tropical climate and mountainous interior support diverse terrestrial, marine/coastal and freshwater ecosystems, including limestone forests, rainforests, riparian woodlands, wetlands and coral reefs. The country has rich biodiversity, marked by a high endemism of species. Jamaica has been ranked fifth among island nations based on the number of endemic plants. There is also a high endemism rate for animal species, including reptiles, amphibians, snails, land crabs and land birds. Over 800 flowering plant species are endemic to Jamaica, along with more than 20 bird species. Despite this biodiversity, less than 10% of Jamaica’s natural forest remains undisturbed. In the mid-1990s, the country had one of the world’s highest deforestation rates. The latest forest assessment shows an increase in forest cover since that time. Approximately 40 per cent (439, 938 hectares) of the island is classified as forest, a 10% increase from the mid-1990s. This increase is attributable to secondary (ruinate) forest growth, which is less pristine than undisturbed primary forest.


The Hills to Ocean project aims to reduce the vulnerability of Jamaican ecosystems and communities to climate change impacts while alleviating poverty through the implementation of an integrated landscape management approach in three main watershed management units (WMUs). These are Wagwater WMU (St. Mary), Rio Nuevo WMU (St. Ann) and the Rio Bueno/White River WMU (St. Ann and Trelawny). This will help build resilience by tackling land degradation, marine sedimentation, soil erosion and river pollution.

Specific actions

Activities under the project include: (i) the implementation of integrated and sustainable landscape management programmes in three degraded watersheds, involving bioengineering, restoration and climate-proofing, as well as the development of sustainable farming systems to boost food security and agricultural livelihoods; (ii) the restoration and preservation of wetlands, including the removal of solid waste and the instalation of advanced water-monitoring systems; and (iii) increasing public awareness about integrated and sustainable landscape management by training farmers and government agency staff in bioengineering and climate-resilient agricultural techniques.


  • Camille Wildman, Project Manager, cwildman@pioj.gov.jm
  • Dianne Davis, Senior Director, ddavis@pioj.gov.jm
    External Cooperation Management Division, Planning Institute of Jamaica

Further information

Dianne Davis, Senior Director, ddavis@pioj.gov.jm
External Cooperation Management Division, Planning Institute of Jamaica