Honoring a Caribbean Conservationist and Scholar: Dr. Susan Otuokon


Dr. Susan Otuokon has played an important role in the conservation of Jamaica’s natural resources through her ongoing work with the JCDT, and more widely managing various projects across the Caribbean. However, this year her hard work and dedication paid off with the inscription of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Jamaica’s first. This is a proud achievement. Recently, her alma mater (St. Hugh’s High School in Kingston) honored her as its 2015 Distinguished Past Student. Below is their press release and photo. Congratulations, Susan!

Susan Otuokon Distinguished Past Student

Photo caption: St Hugh’s Past Students Association President, Diane Thompson Clarke (right) escorts Executive Director of the Jamaica Conservation Development Trust (JCDT) and Park Manager of the Blue and John Crow Mountains Protected Area, Susan Otuokon, at the Association’s Annual General Meeting recently where Otuokon was honored as the 2015 Distinguished Past Student for her accomplishments in the field of Natural Resources Management. 

UWI Environmental Management Graduate Charts Successful UNESCO Heritage Site Listing

Dr Otuokon prepared the dossier for the nomination of the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park (BJCMNP) to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, and led the process in 2009. The proposal was not accepted on its first submission, but, undaunted, she returned with the team from Jamaica in 2015 and was successful, as on July 3 the site was inscribed by UNESCO as a mixed property, and Jamaica’s first ever property on the list. This is a valuable designation, as of the more than 1,000 heritage sites, only 32 are inscribed because of their natural as well as cultural legacies. Susan credits her high school St Hugh’s and the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona for her foundations.

 

Dr Otuokon completed a BSc degree majoring in Zoology with a minor in Botany at UWI Mona, and graduated with an MSc in Aquatic Management from the University of London. She earned a PhD in Environmental Management from UWI in 2010. While she was an undergraduate her lecturer, Dr Peter Bacon, urged Susan not to think about conservation as managing nature, but rather as managing people who use nature. This lesson has guided her through her career at JCDT as she develops plans and policies and manages initiatives as well as activities. One of Susan’s outstanding achievements was the staging of Green Expo in 1996, and the next four editions of the Expo. She developed the 1990–1993 Plan for a System of Protected Areas for Jamaica.

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Dedication to scholarship marks Susan’s career. She is a Council Member of the Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals and an ongoing contributor to national and international journals in her field. Her writings include her work on plans for the modernisation of the National Protected Areas in Belize; improving forest and protected area management in Trinidad and Tobago; management of reef fisheries in the Caribbean; development and implementation of an emergency response audit for the Caribbean Disaster Environmental Management Agency; development of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ plan for national parks, rivers and beaches; and preparation of curricula and course modules for protected area management for Connecticut State University.

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Susan Otuokon (center) participates in an all-Jamaican panel at the BirdsCaribbean 20th International Meeting on July 25, 2015 in Kingston. (My photo)
Susan Otuokon (center) participates in an all-Jamaican panel at the BirdsCaribbean 20th International Meeting on July 25, 2015 in Kingston. (My photo)

Take a look at the beautiful JCDT website: http://www.jcdt.org.jm and like their Facebook page! You can read more about the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation (and view some great photos) at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1356

The Jamaican Blackbird, which lives in the Blue and John Crow Mountains, is endemic to Jamaica and its status is endangered (largely due to habitat destruction and disturbance). It is not to be confused with the very common (and noisy) "black bird," which is the Greater Antillean Grackle or "Cling Cling." (Photo: Paul Jones)
The Jamaican Blackbird, which lives in the Blue and John Crow Mountains, is endemic to Jamaica and its status is endangered (largely due to habitat destruction and disturbance). It is not to be confused with the very common (and noisy) “black bird,” which is the Greater Antillean Grackle or “Cling Cling.” (Photo: Paul Jones)

 

 

 


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