Save Cockpit Country Day is September 20 in Stewart Town, Trelawny

Save Cockpit Country!

Stewart Town Square in Trelawny will be the focus of a programme of education, entertainment and empowerment on Cockpit Country, on Friday, September 20 from 10:00 a.m. Irie FM will be conducting an outside broadcast from 6:00 a.m. (yes, early) to 2:00 p.m. It coincides with the September 20 Global Climate Strike. There is a connection, and a very strong one. You can find the official announcement of the #ClimateStrike event here. 

Here are a few things to think about: Jamaica is, as we know, highly vulnerable to climate change. We are already feeling its impact, on our own island and across the region. Beaches and our coastal areas are eroding. Our coral reefs are in trouble. Deforestation continues. We have all been feeling the extreme heat and drought this summer – accompanied by water shortages and forest fires. Then there are the more powerful storms such as Dorian just two weeks ago, which has devastated several islands in the Bahamas. The forests of Cockpit Country are the lungs of Jamaica and the source of much valuable water. 

Cockpit Country_Eubanks
The endangered Cockpit Country – a treasure house of biodiversity and precious water resources – should not even be mentioned in the same breath as “bauxite mining,” in my view. (Photo: Ted Lee Eubanks)

A number of experts on the global climate crisis and the value of Cockpit Country will gather at this event. Cultural advocates, including Queen Ifrica, Tony Rebel and others will be there. Most importantly, residents and community members who are already suffering from bauxite mining will be there. Educators and students from a number of local schools also plan to be there.


A Northern Potoo in Stewart Town Forest. (Photo: Wendy Lee)

Note: The Stewart Town area is particularly important for birds. A Caribbean Birding Trail was established in the area by BirdsCaribbean. Local guides were trained in Albert Town in 2015. Please read my article on the training and the significance of the area – as well as the community value of eco-tourism. Expeditions with birders are conducted along its leafy lanes. On BirdsCaribbean’s Caribbean Birding Trail (CBT) website, there are also links to other birding locations in Jamaica – including Barbecue Bottom, also in Cockpit Country. 

Farmer coming from the fields in Stewart Town, Trelawny. (Photo: Wendy Lee)

It is almost impossible to underestimate the precious biodiversity of the Cockpit Country. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. We know that extinction is real, in the face of climate change. 

According to the press release below, the demands are:

  • Take the lives of our children and future generations seriously by immediate global actions to counter the devastation of the human made Climate Crisis;
  • Protect ALL of Cockpit Country not just the designated Cockpit Country Protected Area * No Mining in ALL of Cockpit Country;
  • No Environmental Permit for Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners SML 173;
  • Review the practices of the Aluminum industry in Jamaica which is the leading cause of deforestation, pollutes the soil, water and air, makes residents ill, damages local agriculture, disenfranchises and impoverishes rural Jamaicans. It also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Devise an exit plan for the Aluminum Industry in Jamaica, including options for economic replacement and reparations for the communities that have been sacrificed to the industry. (Are we going to continue mining in perpetuity? Is there NO long term planning for phasing out bauxite mining?)


Jamaica Joins the September 20 Global Climate Strike With a Call to Protect All of Cockpit Country

In August 2018, at the age of fifteen, Greta Thunberg of Sweden began a solo campaign to jolt adults and her Parliament into taking the climate crisis seriously and to take Bold Climate Action. Day after day she stood outside of Parliament, alone with her placard. Her example inspired other young people to also take protest actions, and the school climate strike movement gained momentum under the slogan Fridays for Future. Students took time off from schools on Fridays to protest the actions and inactions that are stealing their futures, and the futures of generations to come.

On Friday 20 September, there will be a world-wide Climate Strike where people of all ages will come together to support the call for Bold Climate Action, to educate ourselves and each other about the local and global issues that fuel the Climate Crisis, and to better understand what we can do individually and collectively to make changes. In Jamaica, we are joining the Climate Strike movement by declaring 20 September, Save Cockpit Country Day. We are holding a lively gathering in Stewart Town Square in Trelawny to call for ALL of Cockpit Country to be protected, not just the designated Cockpit Country Protected Area that was declared in 2017 and is still not protected by law.

Special Mining Lease 173, granted to Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners to mine the eastern part of Cockpit Country threatens the Rio Bueno watershed, pristine forests, local agriculture, economic centers like Stewart Town, and will continue the destruction of Jamaica’s rural heritage. Cockpit Country forests, the lungs of Jamaica, are essential to protecting Jamaica from the ravages of global warming and climate change, and must not be destroyed. Jamaica is highly vulnerable to climate change and already feeling the effects of global warming through sea level rise that is eroding beaches and shoreline, killing coral reefs, increasing heat, drought and causing more powerful storms. The recent devastation of the Northern Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian should be a wake-up call to all residents of Jamaica and the Jamaican Government, the same can certainly happen to us.

On Friday 20 September, Cockpit Country Warriors, Vagabond Media and IRIE-FM are organizing a day of Education, Entertainment and Empowerment in Stewart Town, Trelawny to highlight the need to protect ALL of Cockpit Country and to understand Cockpit Country’s role in protecting Jamaica from the Climate Crisis. It will be an exciting day where students and educators from over ten schools will participate with exhibitions, presentations, and skits about the Climate Crisis and Cockpit Country. IRIE-FM will be broadcasting live from Stewart Town Square from 10:00AM to 2:00PM with lots of good music and important information with interviews from experts and community members, and then the program will continue into the evening with more speakers, entertainers including Queen Ifrika and Tony Rebel and cultural practitioners. All are welcome. Come and join us in Stewart Town Square, show your support for Protecting ALL of Cockpit Country and be part of Jamaica’s Global Climate Strike Action! The future is made by the actions we take today – act wisely!

Many rivers have their sources in Cockpit Country. This is the Martha Brae River in Trelawny. (My photo)

4 thoughts on “Save Cockpit Country Day is September 20 in Stewart Town, Trelawny

  1. Considering the low price of aluminum in today’s world market,
    “Is it really prudent to disrupt a very ecologically essential part of Jamaica, and at what cost to the populace and the country on a whole?”
    “Why not encourage re-afforestation, teach and assist small farmers how to better manage and enhance the delicate resources?”


    1. Absolutely. There are climate-smart and eco-friendly alternative livelihoods available. Including as I noted, eco-tourism. Certainly reforestation is an important aspect too. Thank you so much for your comments.


  2. GM Emma, In Tell My Horse, you will find Hurston’s description of Cockpit Country circa 1930s of great interest and relevance. I would love to hike and learn therein next trip. Love,

    Rachel Frankel, A.I.A. via iPhone



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