As I mentioned recently, Jamaica House has opened a new petition portal – rather like President Obama’s White House petition page. Jamaica Environment Trust and a range of civil society/environmental advocates have opened a petition to Save Cockpit Country. Yes, I have written about this many times before, and there have been public consultations, many articles written. The residents of the area (including the Maroons) have trekked to Kingston to lobby Government offices.
We must support the Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group! The petition needs MANY more signatures in the next 30 days, – not much time – so do sign and share the petition widely with all your contacts at home and abroad! We need this to “go viral”…
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20170406/cockpit-country-indecision “The decision is made,” said PM Holness back in April. “it is just the technical issues that are being worked out.”
Following the launch of a new petition portal by Jamaica House, civil society groups and concerned individuals have uploaded a Save Cockpit Country petition, which can be found at http://opm.gov.jm/participate/jamaica-house-petition/
The Jamaica House portal requires a minimum of 15,000 signatures in 30 days before the Government of Jamaica will consider and respond to the petition.
The petition calls on the Prime Minister to establish the boundary of Cockpit Country to include hydrology, geomorphology, biological diversity, culture and history and points to the Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group (CCSG) boundary as being the only boundary which takes in all these factors. The petition goes on to ask the Prime Minister to close Cockpit Country to mining, quarrying and prospecting in accordance with the community consultations already held and the recommendations of the University of the West Indies boundary study completed in 2013, and declare the region a National Park.
Cockpit Country is under immediate threat from bauxite mining, which would remove forest cover, block and pollute waterways, displace residents, threaten agricultural livelihoods, compromise air quality and threaten the health and wellbeing of thousands of Jamaican citizens.
For over a decade the Government of Jamaica has delayed defining a boundary for Cockpit Country but a decision about this important matter is likely to be taken soon.
Cockpit Country is the largest remaining natural forest in Jamaica. The fresh water it stores and releases via almost 40 rivers, streams, springs, upwellings, glades and ponds supplies about 40% of Western Jamaica’s water needs. Jamaica is facing major negative impacts from Global Climate Change – unpredictable rainfall, and extreme weather events including drought. Ensuring the preservation of Cockpit Country promotes climate resilience, is an investment in the future, and literally means fresh water in the bank.
Cockpit Country is a symbol of resistance and triumph, as well as an important cultural and historical site for Jamaicans. It was here that the Maroons fought the British to a Treaty in 1738-9. Cockpit Country was a sanctuary for the Maroons, who still live within its borders.
The plants and animals of Cockpit Country are extraordinarily diverse. Some are found only in Jamaica, and others, especially a multitude of plants, are found only in Cockpit Country. This area is also an important ecotourism destination, especially for birdwatching.
The Save Cockpit Country campaign is asking all concerned Jamaicans to sign the petition.
Diana McCaulay, CEO, Jamaica Environment Trust, 469-1315
Carol Narcisse, civil society advocate, 430-4705
Wendy Lee, Seven Oaks Sanctuary for Wildlife, 359-1505 or 808-1657