Jamaica’s 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.
We, the undersigned, call on the Prime Minister of Jamaica to:
• ESTABLISH the boundary of Cockpit Country to include hydrology, geomorphology, biological diversity, culture and history. The Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group (CCSG) boundary is the only one which takes in all these factors.
• CLOSE Cockpit Country to mining, quarrying and prospecting, to comply with the community consultations already held and the recommendations of the University of the West Indies boundary study completed in 2013.
• DECLARE Cockpit Country a Protected National Park and put in place comprehensive measures to ensure its management and conservation for all Jamaicans, including future generations.
Tell us where you stand on this issue. Are you for mining or are you against it?