Our precious Cockpit Country is now formally, and officially, protected. At last, the waiting is over and a decision has been made.
Please find below a press release from the Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group which, while noting one specific concern, welcomes the Government’s efforts to find a solution, with all the conflicting interests. As I noted yesterday, there are areas of anxiety. I think what I would like to see is proper enforcement of environmental laws; public education for residents, in particular farmers on sustainable agriculture; and definitely, as this group says, a buffer zone around the edges.
These are not only responsibilities for the respective Government agencies; but also for the residents themselves. We all need to start re-educating ourselves, and each other. We know climate change is real, and affecting us every day in our daily lives. Rural folks recognise this more than anyone.
There is much work to be done, and of course…vigilance is key. But…let us take responsibility for our environment. We know we can do better! (OK, getting off my soapbox now!)
November 22, 2017
The Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group (CCSG) is encouraged by the declaration made yesterday by Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness at a sitting of the House of Representatives, that over 74,000 hectares of land will be designated as the Cockpit Country Protected Area and closed to mining under the Mining Act.
This long-awaited announcement of the decision to formally protect one of Jamaica’s most biologically and socio-culturally important areas, comes after 37,568 Jamaicans made their support for the area known through the new Jamaica House online petition portal, and by signing hard copy petitions. The Save Cockpit Country Campaign galvanised nationwide support for stewardship of the area in the interest of its residents and all the people of Jamaica.
The CCSG welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that a management plan will be developed for the Cockpit Country Protected Area, and that any development or mining activity in the zone immediately surrounding the protected area will be subject to rigorous review, including by Cabinet. The group is also heartened by the Government’s stated commitment to ensure appropriate funding will be provided, and greater attention paid to enforcement of environmental laws.
The CCSG is, however, concerned that the proposed boundary does not adequately protect the important water resources of Cockpit Country. Specifically, the north-eastern section of the boundary excludes sources of the Rio Bueno river system. The southern boundary excludes Nassau Mountains and its sinks and spring risings; these eventually reach the Black River. It appears a mining lease has already been granted for this area.
The CCSG will now request detailed maps of the boundary as presented by the Prime Minister for review. The CCSG also intends to lobby for adequate buffer zones for the protected area.
SAVE COCKPIT COUNTRY CONTACTS
NORTH COCKPIT COUNTRY
Lorna Williams Christie, Duanvale Resident, Cockpit Country Local Forestry Committee Member, CC activist, 853-3253/ 774-1148
Asburga Harwood, was threatened with mining; has been active in CC struggle: 425-5239