Consultant to help identify boundaries of Cockpit Country
CABINET has approved proposals for the appointment of a consultant to help identify the precise boundaries of the Cockpit Country.
This followed discussions Monday on a report from a Cabinet sub-committee on government’s minerals policy in the protected area, which has been at the centre of a controversy, since last year, over the granting of licences for bauxite prospecting there.
The ministers of finance and planning, agriculture and lands, national security, foreign affairs and foreign trade, information and development and the attorney general were all appointed to the sub-committee in mid-December.
The committee was formed after the government, under pressure from environmentalists and other interest groups, suspended all licences allowing prospecting for bauxite in the Cockpit Country.
Minister of Information and Development Donald Buchanan told Monday’s post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House that the sub-committee’s report followed talks with the Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group.
He said that a decision on the precise boundaries would assist the government in determining policies involving the granting of exploration and mining rights in the Cockpit Country.
The Cockpit Country is a section of the island straddling several parishes – Trelawny, Westmoreland, St James, St Elizabeth, Manchester, and St Ann.
It serves as the source or headwater of the island’s only navigable river, the Black River, as well as the Martha Brae and Great River, and dozens of invaluable springs ringing the area. Many small villages depend on water from these springs.
The area is also a major refuge from human activity for 27 endemic of the island’s 289 bird species found nowhere else in the world. Nearly all the world’s Black-billed Parrots and the Jamaican blackbird, which are endangered, are found in this area.