The residents of South Trelawny, particularly those in Sawyers, Alps, Ulster Spring, Freeman’s Hall and the many surrounding communities that have been removed from the now designated Cockpit Country Protected Area; and who, as a result, fall within the area covered by a Special Mining Lease (SML 173) are being faced with the imminent threat of bauxite mining and are depending on the Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency for leadership and to advocate on their behave for protection from this threat.
STEA has been advocating for the conservation of Cockpit Country by facilitating alternate economic opportunity projects for residents since 1996 when the organization was established. We have remained focused in this regard on the dedicated efforts of a voluntary core staff because of the significant importance of the Cockpit Country as the last remaining wilderness area in Jamaica. It is a major watershed area and provides 40 percent of the island’s groundwater which serves industry and the population in western Jamaica. The more than 1500 endemic species and the richness of biodiversity gives the area the global distinction as an environmental hotspot. The area is endowed with fertile bottomlands between the conical hillocks where local residents plant their crops and maintain their livelihood. Associated with these lands are rich deposits of Bauxite for the making of aluminum.
In 2017 the people of Jamaica petitioned the government with a request that there be no Bauxite mining in the Cockpit Country. The overwhelming support for the no mining petition resulted in the country’s Prime Minister declaring in the country’s parliament in that year that there would be no mining in the Cockpit Country. The government is now 2 years later, retracting its decision and intends to mine Bauxite in sections of the Cockpit Country starting in September 2019. The citizens of the communities and sympathetic Jamaicans are mounting a campaign to protest this action and prevent the government from proceeding with the action.
Given that the The Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency has been for years the chief advocate for no mining, the communities are relying on the organization to initiate and lead this protest effort.
Unfortunately, the STEA does not have the budget to spearhead and maintain this urgent public protest which involves: mobilizing the community residents to take protest action, host community meetings, put out public advertisements in the electronic media, create a steady flow of information on social media and conducting a public debate to highlight the environmental degradation and marginalization of the population to be affected by government action.
For this reason the Management of Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency is seeking financial support to cover the cost of managing this activity in the short run into September 2019. We appreciate your cooperation and support.