Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Jamaica Environment Trust expresses alarm at bauxite mining in Cockpit Country

The Government commissioned a Cockpit Country boundary study to be done by the University of the West Indies (UWI) and this was completed in 2008, the release said. The public consultation process on mining in Cockpit Country as well as the proposed boundaries was done in 2013.

The report released in September 2013 concluded: “The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) should not authorise any form of exploration of mineral deposits, mining and quarrying activity within the Cockpit Country as the level of emotion is too high and level of opposition and resistance by community members and leaders, CBOs, NGOs, and civil society organisations, some Government of Jamaica agencies and members of the academic community may not provide enough guarantee and confidence for potential investors.”

Friday, May 1, 2015

No to Roaring River Water Shed to China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC)

We the caring people of the earth say no to giving away Roaring River Water Shed to China
Petitioning Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller The Government of Jamaica (Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller)

This is the birthright of the people of Jamaica and inheritance of our children which we freely share with the rest of the world. Majority of Jamaicans today are descendants of prisoners of war, forced free labour(enslavement). We have more than earned our right to have full ownership, control and profits of all lands in Jamaica.

St. Ann borders Trelawny so it’s very close to home and is a concern for us from the Cockpit Country for many reasons the most obvious the negative environmental impact on the immediate area and the rest of the island. The Roaring River Water Shed area is located in St. Ann, Jamaica and is part of the Rio Bueno Water Shed Management Unit. Roaring River is just slightly west of Dunns River Falls (Jamaica's most popular and famous attraction)

About the The Roaring River land and water shed area

The government has entered into a deal with CHEC for them to complete the construction of the North South highway in return for 1,200 acres of land. CHEC is spending US$610 million on the North-South highway, US$75 million of which is thought to have been spent completing the Mount Rosser bypass, on which Jamaica had already spent US$120 million.

The Chinese will operate the toll road for 50 years, after which it will be handed back to the government.

CHINA HARBOUR Engineering Company (CHEC) has submitted a proposal to the Government of Jamaica for Roaring River lands (800 acre) as part of an agreement with the Government of Jamaica as payment on loans to construct the North-South link of Highway 2000, which the People of Jamaica had no say in. China aims to build on these lands (resort or China Town) and in so doing will upset the entire water system in the Rio Bueno Water Shed Management Unit. This will undoubtedly result in serious environmental problems for St. Ann and Jamaica and seriously disrupt the ability of the Government to provide adequate water supply to thousands of Jamaican citizens.

Environmental impact

According to Summary for Policy makers by Climate Studies Group, Mona
The impacts of climate change is having an impact on Jamaica and is particularly vulnerable as the economy of the country relies greatly on its natural resources. The water sector is particularly vulnerable to climate change. The island is divided into 26 watershed management units 19 of which are considered highly degraded due to inappropriate land use practices, leading to relatively high levels of soil erosion; siltation and turbidity; and reduced quality of water. The state of the degraded watersheds, among which are the Rio Minho and Rio Bueno-White River, will continue to deteriorate under climate change conditions, if reparative actions are not taken. It is with this in mind that the future climate of Jamaica is being examined with a special emphasis on the Rio Minho; Rio Bueno-White River Watersheds as examples of what is possible at the sub-national scale.

The Rio Minho and Rio Bueno White
River Watersheds extend across Central Jamaica spanning three parishes: St. Ann, Trelawny and Clarendon. It is estimated (STATIN, 2011) that approximately 265,000 persons live in the region of both these watersheds and are therefore reliant on the resources it supports. Industrial activities in the region employ and support a significant portion of its population. The watersheds are also important for small farming in its mountainous areas. They are also vital to the water security of Jamaica.
The watersheds also encompass a significant portion of the north coast where a number of tourist resorts and hotel chains are located.  Given the significance of the watersheds to economic and social development in Jamaica, there is a need to define how the climate of the watershed area is expected to change in the near future and how these changes will impact key economic sectors within the area. This report may prove useful when developing watershed management strategies in the context of a changing climate. Importantly, this document suggests what is currently possible for the sub-island scale, using the Rio Minho and Rio Bueno-White River watersheds as the model.

Additional report from The Nature Conservancy Jamaica
 freshwater biodiversity
Jamaica’s freshwater ecosystems have not been as well studied or protected as terrestrial and marine systems. However, past assessments have recognised Jamaica’s freshwater biodiversity as regionally important and characterised by moderate to very high rates of endemism (i.e. many species are unique to the island). Moreover, the healthy ecosystems that safeguard the survival of these aquatic and semi-aquatic species also provide the country’s clean water and food and moderate coastal systems. Freshwater ecosystems therefore play an important role in Jamaica’s High freshwater conservation areas.

Most freshwater habitats are under or completely unprotected in Jamaica. Jamaica's Protected Area network does not preserve the connectivity of freshwater ecosystems. Management effectiveness of existing Protected Area Network with respect to freshwater systems is uncertain.  Top threats on island wide scale are nutrient loading, deforestation and removal of riverside vegetation, and invasive species. Significant opportunities to advance freshwater conservation, such as protected areas, Ridge-to-Reef initiatives, environmental education and environmental funding are currently under-utilised.
Huge Information Gaps on Freshwater biodiversity.  Up to date information on freshwater biological systems, practitioners and projects generally absent. Many watersheds and freshwater ecosystems are un-researched or under-researched.  There is insufficient local capacity to assess, plan and implement freshwater biodiversity conservation.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Maroons, conservationists say no to bauxite, limestone mining

Petre Williams-Raynor, Contributing Editor

CONSERVATIONISTS - THIS time joined by the Accompong Maroons - have once again come out against bauxite prospecting in the Cockpit Country, which accounts for a significant percentage of Jamaica's remaining forest cover and invaluable water resources.

"The Maroons are a sovereign people who have exercised sovereignty over Accompong and surrounding lands for over 275 years [and whose] rights are recognised and guaranteed by virtue of a treaty with the British in 1738," said Colonel Ferron Williams, leader of the Accompong Maroons in St Elizabeth, in a June 13 release to the media.

"The act of granting a licence to any entity to prospect over our lands without our permission is illegal, unconstitutional and a breach of international human rights law."

Williams said no good could come of mining in the Cockpit Country - home to some 27 of the island's 28 endemic species and the largest butterfly in the Americas, the giant swallowtail.

"We are opposed to the mining, whether for bauxite or limestone - white or yellow. When one takes into consideration the other areas that bauxite has really gone into, what do they have to show for it? Poverty, health hazards and houses that are in a deplorable condition," he said.

Williams' comments follow revelations that a special exclusive prospecting licence - scheduled to expire in November this year - had been granted to bauxite interests in 2005 and renewed annually since then. Commissioner of Mines Clinton Thompson confirmed this on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, conservationists in and outside the Cockpit Country have echoed Williams' sentiments, suggesting that Government had perhaps not acted in good faith.

"If you want us to act in good faith, act in good faith," said Diana McCaulay, chief executive officer for the Jamaica Environment Trust, one of several organisations that comprise the Cockpit Country Stakeholders' Group (CCSG).

"Having declared the boundary, do the consultation about land use, what is going to be allowed and what is not going to be allowed. Don't continue to consult and while consulting continue prospecting," she added.