The Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group (CCSG) and the Jamaica Environmental Advocacy Network (JEAN) are anxious to see the results of the Cockpit Country boundary study, commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, and carried out by the University of the West Indies last year. The establishment of boundaries, including important forest reserves, is considered a key element for protection of this important natural, historical and cultural asset.
Former Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, had assured civil society groups that no mining or prospecting would be allowed in Cockpit Country and Prime Minister Bruce Golding has also stated that no bauxite mining would be allowed in this region.
Representatives of the civil society groups met with new Minister of Energy, Mining and Technology, Hon. Clive Mullings in October 2007 to discuss the status of the boundary study and to brief the Minister on the issue. Hugh Dixon from the Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency (STEA), Michael Schwartz and Dr. Susan Koenig from Windsor Research Centre (WRC) and Diana McCaulay from the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) represented the civil society groups. “Minister Mullings received us with interest and promised to bring himself up to speed on the matter as soon as possible,” said Ms. McCaulay. “We are concerned, however, that the boundary study has still not been released.”
The Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group also welcomes the review of the bauxite/alumina industry in Jamaica, which is now being carried out by The Sessional Select Parlimentary Committee on Economy and Production It is hoped the committee will examine a wide range of issues, including the true costs and benefits of bauxite mining and the role of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI). “We have long been concerned about the delegation of the environmental regulatory role for bauxite mining to the JBI,” said Ms. McCaulay.
Mr. Schwartz, assisted by Dr Koenig, Ms McCaulay and Mr Dixon made a technical presentation to the Committee on January 30th, 2008. Bauxite interests were then invited to present their case on February 27th, 2008.
JEAN and CCSG remain optimistic that Cockpit Country will be granted protected area designation under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority Act and that the region will be closed to all mining and prospecting under the Mining Act.