Jamaica joins the rest of the world today, April 18, in observing International Day for Monuments and Sites under the theme, the “Cultural Heritage of Water”.
According to the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS):
Water is one of the key resources required to sustain life. It has led to the development and generation of significant material culture in the form of items, technology and places. How to obtain it, how to store it, how to harness its power and conserve it has motivated human endeavour in a myriad of ways. It has also been the catalyst for the development of significant cultural practices which have generated intangible cultural heritage values. It has inspired poetry, literature, artistic endeavour such as painting, dance and sculpture. It has informed and inspired the development of philosophies and religious practice. The cultural heritage of water, therefore relates not only to the technology and architecture that humankind has developed to manage, utilise and celebrate its life giving properties but also to those intangible values that have shaped our beliefs and practices.
In 1982, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated April 18 as International Day for Monuments and Sites. A theme is selected each year to help focus the celebration and promotion of cultural heritage across the world. The aim is to explore cultural heritage beyond the select group of sites on the World Heritage List and to encourage local communities and individuals to consider the importance of cultural heritage to their lives, identities and communities (ICOMOS 2011).
This observation couldn’t come at a more opportune time considering the controversy developing over one of Jamaica’s popular blue holes, the Blue Lagoon in Portland. The Blue Lagoon is a 55 m (180 ft) deep extinct volcano, surrounded by lush tropical foliage, fed by underground streams. It is very popular with swimmers and divers. It is in fact the largest of Jamaica’s spring-fed lagoons.
According to recent news reports, an artificial beach is currently under construction at the Blue Lagoon.
The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) became aware of this development in January 2011, and has since written to Prime Minister Bruce Golding seeking his intervention to halt the development at Blue Lagoon. JET has also been in dialogue with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), and other stakeholders to query how such a development was allowed to take place, considering that the Blue Lagoon is a protected area.
In reaction to these current developments and in a bid to regulate the activities that are contributing to its deterioration, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) is now in the process of designating the Blue Lagoon a protected national heritage site.
Bwoy, it seems as if we are always after the fact!
So, a part from the Blue Lagoon, which will hopefully soon be listed in Jamaica’s List of Declared National Sites and Monuments, what other water-based cultural heritage sites exist in Jamaica? They are:
- Hope aqueduct, St. Andrew
- Papine-Mona aqueduct, St. Andrew
- Long Lane aqueduct, St. Andrew
- Bushy Park aqueduct, St. Catherine
Baths, fountains and spas:
- Milk River Spa, Clarendon
- Rockfort Mineral Bath and Spa, Sir Florizel Glasspole Boulevard, Kingston
- Bath Fountain Spa, St. Thomas
- Underwater City of Port Royal, Kingston (the JNHT has submitted an application for the Underwater City to be nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List)
- Pedro Bank, Westmoreland
All these and more are currently listed in Jamaica’s List of Declared National Sites and Monuments. Why not take a tour of Jamaica’s heritage sites one day? This map from the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCO) can be your guide:
Until next time…
Blue Lagoon Restoration Jamaica, http://bluelagoonjamaica.blogspot.com/2011/03/april-15-2011-port-antonio-workshop.html
Go-Jamaica, Environment watchdog fights for Blue Lagoon, Friday, April 15, 2011
International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), 18 April 2011: The Cultural Heritage of Water
Jamaica Gleaner, Port Royal Nominated for World Heritage Site, Monday, April 18, 2011
Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), List of Declared National Sites and Monuments
Jamaica Observer, It’s International Day for Monuments and Sites, April 18, 2011