Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Earth Today | JET hunts signatures for Cockpit Country petition

Published:Thursday | September 7, 2017 | 9:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor
Suzanne Stanley

THE JAMAICA Environment Trust (JET) is targeting 15,000 signatures by the end of this month for its Cockpit Country petition, calling for, among other things, the closure of the area to mining, quarrying and prospecting.

"If we gather 15,000 signatures by the deadline, the Office of the Prime Minister will review the petition and issue an official response. We will also continue to raise awareness around the issue and use other strategies to advocate for the things outlined in the petition," said JET's deputy chief executive officer, Suzanne Stanley.

The petition, launched on August 21, had 5,556 signatures up to yesterday, and also calls for:

- acceptance of the proposed Cockpit Country Stakeholders Group (CCSG) boundary, which its says is the only one that takes account of the area's "hydrology, geomorphology, biological diversity, culture, and history";

- the declaration of Cockpit Country as a Protected National Park and the implementation of comprehensive measures to ensure its management and conservation for all Jamaicans, including future generations; and

- compliance with the recommen-dations of the University of the West Indies report on the public consultations on the boundary.

JET has, too, begun work on a savecockpitcountry.org website "with input from concerned stakeholders", as part of a campaign effort to see to the area's conservation.

"We used a free Wordpress template and bought the domain name for US$100. JET used in-house skills and experience with setting up and managing similar websites - savegoatislands.org, nuhduttyupjamaica.org, jamentrust.org - to create the site," Stanley explained.

"The public is invited to send us a donation, no matter how small, to support our efforts. Cheques should be made payable to the Jamaica Environment Trust, with a clear notation 'Cockpit Country campaign'. Donations can also be made directly to any branch of First Caribbean International Bank, Account No. 1001600873, Jamaica Environment Trust," she added.

With work on the site expected to be finalised next week, Stanley said the intention is to "raise awareness about Cockpit Country, get Jamaicans involved in the campaign to protect it, and attract more signatures to the petition".

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