THE EDITOR, Sir:
The protection of the natural environment is the most important and unselfish action in the interest of Jamaicans and other living creatures.
Jamaica was once described as 'the land of wood and water'. Today, we have almost depleted our woodlands along with the wildlife. Many of the hillsides across Jamaica that were once woodlands now lay bare, with diminishing rainfall.
Added to this is a patchwork of bauxite mining excavations, particularly in the south and southwest parishes and it would have been extended to the Cockpit Country if Jamaicans had not protested.
There is also the indiscriminate digging of marl holes, and coal and bush burning. All these conditions have resulted in permanent and unsightly damage to the landscape and the natural environment. Our freshwater streams and rivers are clogged with debris and all kinds of pollutants that threaten the lives of aquatic creatures.
Jamaicans are now saying that we have had enough. Needless to say, it is against this backdrop that the protection of Goat Islands is so important. What Jamaicans fail to realise is that the protection of the natural environment in the interest of Jamaicans has never been a priority for the neocolonial Government of Jamaica, whose allegiance is to the colonial Queen of England and not to the Jamaican citizens.
The Government is faced with the pressure for economic development and deadlines to meet the requirements for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). There is no doubt that the prime minister would hardly hesitate to trade off the Goat Islands to the Chinese for a few obsequious diplomatic kisses.
Madame Prime Minister, do not move so fast. Listen to the protests coming from the Jamaican citizens who speak not only for ourselves, but also on behalf of posterity.
I strongly support the proactive stance of the Jamaica Environment Trust and other groups in explaining to the Jamaican Government and citizens the importance of maintaining the natural environment of the Goat Islands and to protest any decision or agreement by the Government to interrupt or destroy the natural environment of Goat Islands and/or any other place of natural environmental significance.
Too often, the role of the environmenta-lists in Jamaica is more of a reactive process. Whenever the Government is engaged in a project that will impact on the natural environment, it should be a matter of policy that the Government consult with registered environmental groups with a track record on environmental issues. This would lead to greater transparency and less protest after the fact.
Donald G. Morgan