Gov't to respond to 'Save Cockpit Country' petition within 30 days

Monday, September 25, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), in congratulating the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) and other Jamaicans for the success of the 'Save Cockpit Country' petition, said it will address the issues and concerns brought forward within 30 days.

In a release a short while ago, the OPM emphasised its support for initiatives aimed at protecting the environment and encouraged citizens to be more caring of their surroundings and to adopt sustainable environmental practices.

“The Office of the Prime Minister wishes to advise that, as was committed, the government will officially respond to the petition within 30 days,” said the release.

The 'Save Cockpit Country' petition was launched on August 21 by the Jamaica Environmental Trust (JET) on the Office of the Prime Minister's (OPM's) website and surpassed the required 15,000 signatures a full week before the September 30 deadline.

The petition outlines that the 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 per cent = of Western Jamaica's water needs.

It said 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."

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