Technocrats reach agreement on Cockpit Country boundary
Government stakeholders have submitted to Cabinet their recommendation on a boundary for Jamaica's biodiversity-rich Cockpit Country.
"They (Cabinet) will consider it (the recommendation). If they are happy, they will sign off," Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Colonel Oral Khan told The Gleaner.
"The decision now rests with them, and they will satisfy themselves that the decision is in the best interest of the country," he added, noting that the "joint position" was submitted to the Cabinet office two weeks ago.
The joint position follows a series of meetings among public sector players - including the environment ministry and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining - who were previously divided on what the boundary should look like.
The meetings on the boundary came amid ongoing opposition to mining in the Cockpit Country by local civil-society actors and renewed calls for a government decision on the boundary.
The latter came in the wake of revelations earlier this year from the Windsor Research Centre about mining activities by Noranda Bauxite inside a section of the area they see as the Cockpit Country.
Mining in the Cockpit Country - home to the Leeward Maroons and an abundance of endemic species - has been contested for several years now, with the Government calling a halt to the activity, while allowing prospecting, pending a boundary decision.
The public is not expected to weigh in further on the boundary ahead of the Cabinet decision.
"The public had many opportunities to weigh in. [There have been] extensive consultations in the Cockpit Country ... public consultations in Kingston [and], we have heard independently from the environmental NGOs. I think what is required now is a decision," Khan said.