Wed | Aug 22, 2018

Earth Today | JET dissatisfied with pace of boundary legalisation for ecological gem

Published:Thursday | July 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Suzanne Stanley

THE JAMAICA Environment Trust (JET) is unhappy with what they have described as the "seemingly slow pace" of the ground truth process for the Cockpit Country Protected Area (CCPA).

"Although the prime minister has announced the Government of Jamaica's intention to close the CCPA to mining, this cannot be done until the boundary has been ground-truthed and gazetted into law. During our meeting in Elderslie, Forestry Department representatives indicated that only 20 kilometres of the designated CCPA boundary in the vicinity of Troy has been assessed by their field staff to date," JET, headed by CEO Suzanne Stanley, said in a recent release to the media.

The entity was referencing meetings they have convened under their project 'Advancing the Protection of Jamaica's Cockpit Country', which follows the progress of the legalisation process for the Cockpit Country boundary.

 

Not yet confirmed

 

"Ground markers for that 20 kilometres section of boundary have been proposed by the Forestry Department, but these are yet to be confirmed by a certified land surveyor - a necessary step in the ground-truthing process. Although Forestry Department indicated that they are in discussions with the National Land Agency (NLA) to identify and contract a certified land surveyor to assist in ground-truthing process, no timeline could be provided by their representatives as to when this would be done," the entity added.

JET also noted a number of concerns it said had emerged from its meetings with community stakeholders, including the adequacy of information sharing on the ground truth process and the likelihood of expansion of bauxite mining in those communities not included in the CCPA.

Meanwhile, from earlier this year, the Forestry Department, through its chief executive officer and conservator of forests Marilyn Headley, had indicated that the ground truth process would take an estimated two years.

On the concerns raised by residents, Rainee Oliphant, senior legal officer and head of the Legal and Enforcement Division at Forestry, said "a fulsome response" had been given at the recent meeting in Elderslie by the Forestry Department representatives present.

Concerning consultations with stakeholders, she noted: "The details of the focused meetings with communities in the environs of the Cockpit Country are being finalised and will be made available at the appropriate time."

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