Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Cockpit Country

Published:Saturday | October 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM

More to lose from the Cockpit Country plunder

THE EDITOR, Sir:

In Petre Williams-Raynor’s excellent article ‘Bauxite price tag put on Cockpit Country’, we are told that the boundary “advanced by the Cockpit Country Stakeholders’ Group ... would deny access to some 300 million tonnes of bauxite,

valued at some US$9 billion”.

We are given the figures about what the bauxite industry will “lose” if it is not able to mine wherever it wants in the Cockpit Country, but what is missing in the equation are the figures about what Jamaica will lose when the free natural services the Cockpit Country provides are lost because of mining, deforestation and pollution.

The Cockpit Country is 10 per cent of the land mass of Jamaica and provides 40 per cent of Jamaica’s fresh water to six parishes, including the north coast and all its resorts. Therefore, the tourism industry depends on the Cockpit Country.

The Cockpit Country’s intact wet limestone forest also provides clean air and cooling temperatures that help against global warming. These trees and soils also hold carbon dioxide, which helps mitigate the effects of climate change, including droughts and floods, and Cockpit Country’s vast biological diversity creates resilience against the effects of climate change.

In addition to helping Jamaica cope with climate change through regulating the water cycle and sequestering carbon, the Cockpit Country, if left intact, could garner millions of US dollars in carbon credits. The Cockpit Country is also crucial for Jamaica’s food security. The fresh clean water, the enrichment of the soil, and the wild pollinators that the Cockpit Country provides are crucial to Jamaica’s agriculture.

The Cockpit Country is simply invaluable to Jamaica – worth billions (US) annually and should not be held hostage by a single industry that is extremely damaging, has since the 1950s completely disrupted Jamaican rural life, causing displacement and disenfranchisement and many of the problems we now face in terms of an overly urbanised Jamaica; and which leaves rural communities and landscapes as wastelands.

Jamaica is simply not big enough to absorb the ravages of bauxite mining, cannot compete with the likes of Australia, and cannot justify the limited returns to Jamaica and the Jamaican people that come from the bauxite industry.

We must say no to bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country!

ESTHER FIGUEROA

mediavagabond@gmail.com

Gordon Town, St Andrew