Over 34,000 Jamaicans Petition Prime Minister Andrew Holness: Save Cockpit Country

Stunning news, as the petition on the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) website has taken off in a big way in the past week or so. The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) team has collected a large number of “hard copy” signatures, on top of the NOW over 20,000 online signatures, in support of the Save Cockpit Country campaign. (If you have not signed yet, please do so right now! Deadline is tomorrow, Saturday, September 30). I wrote about the development of the campaign, and the OPM’s innovative move to open this portal, for Global Voices today – here. So, here is JET’s press release…

Local guide showing traditional medicinal plants along the trail at Flagstaff, Cockpit Country, Jamaica. (Photo: Ted Lee Eubanks)

September 29, 2017

34,000 Jamaicans to Prime Minister Holness – “Save Cockpit Country!”

Over Thirty-Four Thousand concerned Jamaican citizens led by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) are celebrating their success in exceeding the targeted 15,000 signatures for a Save Cockpit Country petition directed at Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness. The petition which calls on the Prime Minister to establish the boundary of Cockpit Country, close the area to mining, quarrying and prospecting, and declare Cockpit Country a Protected National Park, has attracted 19,988 signatures online and 14,106 signatures in hard copy at the time of writing.

The petition was first launched using the new online petition portal hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on August 21, and was circulated in hard copy shortly thereafter. “Whilst promoting the Save Cockpit Country campaign and online petition, we discovered that many Jamaican citizens were not online, but wished to sign the petition,” said Suzanne Stanley, JET Deputy CEO. “These people were given the alternative to sign a hard copy of the Save Cockpit Country petition, which has been circulated throughout many Jamaican communities, including those in Cockpit Country.”

The final deadline for the online petition, as set by the OPM’s online petition portal, is tomorrow, Saturday, September 30. JET has formally requested a special meeting between the Prime Minister and representatives of the Cockpit Country to mark the achievement of the online petition and hand over the signed hard copy petitions.

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. Protection of Cockpit Country also promotes climate resilience in the face of Global Climate Change. It is also home to many Jamaican endemic plants and animals, some of which are only found in Cockpit Country. The area is also an important cultural and historical site for Jamaicans, particularly the Maroons, who still live within its borders.

For over a decade the Government of Jamaica has delayed defining a boundary for Cockpit Country, which is under immediate threat from bauxite mining. Bauxite mining in Cockpit Country 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.

Maroon and British burial site in Cockpit Country. (Photo: Ted Lee Ebanks)


Suzanne Stanley

Jamaica Environment Trust

123 Constant Spring Road, Unit 5,

Kingston 8

Tel: (876) 960-3693/ 470-7580

Fax: (876) 926-0212

E-mail: sstanley.jet@gmail.com

Website: www.savecockpitcountry.org

4 thoughts on “Over 34,000 Jamaicans Petition Prime Minister Andrew Holness: Save Cockpit Country

  1. What I cannot understand is, why it had to take a Petition to present to the PM for this very important matter to be discussed. Isn’t it clear that Jamaica has a Government, the present one and the one before, who don’t care one bit about the impact destroying this part of Jamaica would cause! It’s blatantly obvious that there would be great devastation to the area and to life (animals and the Maroons) if their plans went ahead. Does the Prime Minister and his MPs care about Jamaica and it’s people? Oh, they don’t live in that part of the Country do they, whatever is and would happen there, would not touch them, would it. After they have lined their pockets, bought their big houses in other parts of the world and have their big pensions etc, it’s a case of, ‘as long as I’m okay’.There’s another Petition online about saving the beaches of Jamaica, again another display of disregard for the people they are suppose to be serving. I am so angry about the Government of Jamaica, whichever party who is governing, showing disregard, showing that they don’t care about the people who put them in the positions they hold. People who blindly believe that these liars and deceivers will be working in their best interests.When they have sold out Jamaica to the highest bidder, destroy crucial areas, massive hotels being built, beaches sold off and locked off, the supermarkets and local shops owned by non-jamaicans and the list could go on, what is left? But they want Jamaicans in the Diaspora to invest and help build up Jamaica, for what and for who? so they can continue to sell off? who will Jamaica belong to? and if the crime problem continues and people are killed in their hundreds and thousands, who will be residing in Jamaica, criminals and rich people? I’m sorry Petchary that my comments is mostly negative and I’m not asking you those questions, but that’s how I feel about Jamaica right now. I was born there and love it to bits, but hate what is happening to beautiful, beautiful Jamaica.


    1. Dear Janet: I fully understand your anger. I often feel the same way, and rant away to myself (or others, if they will listen!) for hours… I agree that it is all off balance. I was not born here but I understand. Having said that, there are many Jamaicans here who are trying to make a difference and really need support. I hope that as a member of the diaspora, you will also support them. I know you probably read a great deal of bad news, but it is not all doom and gloom. With environment/development issues though, I must admit I am generally suspicious and quite cynical. I TRY to stay optimistic though. If this petition has an impact, it will be worth the hard work. Very best wishes to you, Emma


    1. Thanks for your kind words! Yes, we know there are many overseas – Jamaicans AND non-Jamaicans – who are incredibly supportive. So I should say thank YOU! Let us wait and see what happens with this petition… Best, Emma


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