As a Jamaican and someone who is very concerned about the destruction of natural habitats and the effects this will have on human lives, I know that Jamaica’s Cockpit Country is only a speck in the global context of things but it is in the heartland of the country in which I was born and raised.
Though I have lived outside of Jamaica for over 37 years and now travel under the banner of another nationality, Jamaica has an indelible place in my heart which can never be erased.
As a young boy growing up in St. Mary, the stories I heard about the Cockpit Country made is sound somewhat like a mythical place. when I visited the Cockpit Country for the first time as an adult, I was so awed by the majesty of the place, it was a place where nature ruled supreme, seeing the Cockpit Country my love for the forest and nature was not only strengthened but it has perpetuated to this present day.
Because of the Cockpit Country, when I came to Dominica in 1982, I was able to appreciate and love the rainforest.
It is extremely frightening to think that the Cockpit Country and its inhabitants may be under threat because of proposed Industrial Development, do the leaders of the country really understand the importance of the Cockpit Country, its value to not only the the western parishes but to the nation and even the world at large.
The Cockpit Country probably has the most valuable water sources on the island, please Jamaica do not follow in the footsteps of those countries which sacrificed the integrity of their natural environment for so called industrial development.
We can play games with boundaries to justify why it is feasible to conduct mining close to the proposed protected Cockpit Country area, we have seen internationally what happens when we play those games.
Almost 45% of the world’s surface water is either totally or partially contaminated.
Rare species of plants and animals are becoming extinct at an alarming rate, rain-forests which are the lungs of the earth are being wantonly ravaged and destroyed in the name of so called “development” what good will money be to our country if our water is polluted, carbon monoxide pervades the air we breathe, the earth becomes saturated with industrial waste and chemicals and we can no longer grow healthy crops to feed our people.
Basic common sense should tell us that no part, yes no part of the Cockpit Country should be sacrificed to commercial mining of any kind.
Investors in commercial mining have no interest in the country in which they operate beyond exploiting the natural resources and making profits for their shareholders.
Sure they will fake their concerns and make all kinds of promises, guaranteeing the safety of their operations but we have seen what usually happens, all the promises were lies, All the guarantees of safety failed. Look at the negative environmental impact which the extraction of oil from the Oil Sands is having in Alberta Canada. I could go on and on about the effects of mining in so many other countries, just look at the air quality in some of the so called developed countries, some of their rivers are so polluted that they have become health hazards.
Diana McCaulay gave 5 profound reasons why the Cockpit Country should be exempted from Industrial development, Jamaica please heed them.
5 Reasons To Save The Cockpit Country
The Cockpit Country is a rugged, forested area of west-central Jamaica, rich in plants, animals, water and history. It is home to about 70,000 people, including the Leeward Maroons of Jamaica. The wet limestone forest of Cockpit Country is Jamaica’s largest remaining natural forest and a refuge for rare native species. Plans to mine for bauxite and quarry for limestone threaten this important area, which has sparked a major campaign to ‘Save Cockpit Country’. Here are five reasons to preserve Cockpit Country.
1. COCKPIT COUNTRY IS WATER
Cockpit Country supplies critical fresh water for Jamaica, estimated at 40% of the water needs of six western parishes, and 40% of all Jamaica’s underground water resources. This clean water is generated and accumulated by the forests of Cockpit Country. The water then soaks down into rivers, sinkholes, caves and the aquifer deep underground. A list of all the rivers, streams, upwellings, springs, ponds and glades that rise or flow out of Cockpit Country runs to almost 40, including the Great River, Martha Brae, YS River, Black River and Rio Bueno in the east (arising in Litchfield Mountain/Matheson’s Run).
2. COCKPIT COUNTRY IS PEOPLE
Extensive consultations with the communities of Cockpit Country in 2013 as part of a boundary study done by the University of the West Indies showed that the people of Cockpit Country wanted it declared a protected area, ecotourism site, national park and World Heritage Site. They were strongly opposed to bauxite mining and limestone quarrying in Cockpit Country.
3. COCKPIT COUNTRY IS HISTORY AND CULTURE
Cockpit Country is a vibrant cultural, historical and symbolic site. This is where the Maroons fought the British to a treaty in 1738/9 and Cockpit Country remains a symbol of resistance and triumph for all Jamaicans. The Leeward Maroons still live in Cockpit Country and their culture is an essential aspect of Jamaican heritage.
4. COCKPIT COUNTRY IS WILDLIFE
An extraordinary diversity of native plants and animals are found in Cockpit Country. Many are found in Jamaica and nowhere else in the world, and some are found only in Cockpit Country, so they are of global importance. New species are still being discovered and the potential value, such as the options for new drugs, have hardly been explored by scientists.
5. COCKPIT COUNTRY SUPPLIES LIFE-GIVING SERVICES FOR FREE
The land, forests, plants and animals in Cockpit Country provide us with clean air to breathe, cooler temperatures, fresh water collected and stored, pollination and pest control for agriculture, medicinal plants and fertile soil in the valleys. The forests of Cockpit Country also help to buffer the impacts of climate change.
Article by Diana McCaulay for the Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group