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Glimmer of light at end of Cockpit Country tunnel

Published:Wednesday | June 29, 2016 | 12:55 PM
A section of the ecologically valuable Cockpit Country.

WHILE THE jury remains out on when the public can expect a boundary for the Cockpit Country, there could be cause to hope that the long-awaited decision will please at least the majority of stakeholders.

That is if recent comments by Dr Horace Chang, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, is anything to go by.

"The Government is keen on ensuring the Cockpit Country is defined. I think, largely, we will be covering, I would say, 98 per cent of what everybody expects us to cover," said Chang, who has responsibility for water and housing.

However, the minister, speaking to The Gleaner on Tuesday evening, gave no more specifics than his colleague, Minister Daryl Vaz, did earlier in his sectoral presentation to Parliament.

"We are aware that several attempts have been made by the previous administration to define the boundaries, but we are going to complete the process and lay the issue to rest once and for all," said Vaz, who has responsibility for land, environment and climate change.

"In this regard, a joint Cabinet submission with the Ministry of Transport and Mining will be submitted to Cabinet shortly and members will be kept abreast of the developments," he added.

Environmental interests have been eager to have the years-old boundary issue settled, given the ecological and cultural significance of the Cockpit Country.

Not only is the area culturally significant to the Maroons while being home to diverse flora and fauna, it also accounts for 40 per cent of Jamaica's freshwater resources.

Its value to the water sector, in particular, has been emphasised of late, given the changing climate, which, among other things, threatens to compromise water security for Jamaica and other islands of the Caribbean.