The Lost Species of the Cockpit Country, Jamaica

In the Caribbean Biodiversity Hotspot, Jamaica’s Cockpit Country stands out as one of the richest areas with respect to biodiversity. Its eroded limestone now in the form of a patchwork of hills and depression house approximately seventy (70) plant species endemic to the region. This project was primarily an attempt to track down seventeen (17) ‘Lost Species’ (and 3 additional species that were poorly known or possibly new to science).

The Project objectives were to:

  • Explore the Cockpit Country using historical data, maps, and GPS technology in search of the 20 species.
  • Document the plant diversity by collecting herbarium specimens and habitat data
  • Assess the status of native forests within the Cockpit Country and make recommendations for conservation.
  • Establishment of a nursery at the Windsor research Centre for propagation and conservation of the Cockpit Countries threatened plants.


Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens (FTBG), Institute of Jamaica (IJ), Windsor Research Centre WRC), Forestry Department of Jamaica (FD) & University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI)

Other Collaborators:

Global Trees Campaign of Flora & Fauna International, Species Survival Commission of the World Conservation Union (IUCN)

Financial Support:

National Geographic Society (NGS)

Bryan Latham Expedition Fund

The History of Lace Bark

The Botany Department Collaborated with Miss Emily Brennan a textile conservator from the UK in conducting research into the textile history of Lace Bark items in Jamaica, and current status if this once lucrative cottage industry. The research project was funded by the Pasold fund which supports textile history research. The findings will be published in their journal Textile History in fall of 2011. A short article was published in the Treasures of Kew magazine outlining the research project by one of their former conservators, Emily Brennan and the Natural History Museum of Jamaica’s involvement primarily through our former Assistant Botanist Lori-Ann Harris.