JET says residents dissatisfied with progress of Cockpit Country protection

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — One year following Prime Minister Andrew Holness' announcement of the Cockpit Country boundary, residents and civil society are dissatisfied with the progress towards its protection, says the Jamaica Environmental Trust (JET).

Holness announced in Parliament on November 21, 2017 the areas to be designated as the boundary for the Cockpit Country and the Cockpit Country Protected Area (CCPA).

He described the protected area as approximately 74,726 hectares of Cockpit Country, including existing forest reserves, significant hydrological and ecological features, and cultural and heritage sites.

Holness had also announced that no mining would be permitted in the Cockpit Country Protected Area, and in this regard, the Mining Act and any existing mining licences will be amended to close these areas to mining.

However, JET argued that “one year following his (Holness') announcement, bauxite mining and prospecting continues to take place just outside the designated CCPA boundary, and progress towards Cockpit Country being protected under law is slow.”

The agency said it hosted a stakeholders meeting in Kingston recently, where residents of several Cockpit Country communities as well as civil society representatives expressed their dissatisfaction with the process towards the declaration of the CCPA.

JET, on behalf of the Cockpit Country residents and civil society groups present at the meeting, outlined the following concerns related to the declaration of the CCPA:

• Lack of transparency surrounding the ground- truthing process

• The slow pace of the ground-truthing process

• Bauxite mining and prospecting continues to take place near the designated boundary, and new licenses have been issued next to the boundary

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