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Earth Today | Boundary confirmation for ecological gem expected next year

Published:Thursday | August 22, 2019 | 12:00 AM
A section of the original Cockpit Country Reserve in Trelawny, home to a number of Jamaica’s plant and animal species.

MORE THAN a year into the process to provide a detailed description of the Cockpit Country boundary announced by the Government in 2017, the Forestry Department has revealed a December 2020 completion date.

At the same time, based on the ground covered so far, indications are that the area to be officially designated as the boundary for one of Jamaica’s ecological gems could come out a little larger than the 74,726 hectares that was announced by the Prime Minister Andrew Holness in November 2017.

“The latest estimated perimeter is 249.77km encompassing approximately 76,459 hectares. These will be confirmed on completion of the ground truthing exercise,” said Marilyn Headley, head of the Forestry Department.

Former chief technical director in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Colonel Oral Khan, had hinted at the possibility of these types of developments in 2018.

“What we need to do now, since we are not putting up a wall, is be very clear on where the line is; your pencil on the map may take up a couple hundred metres on the ground. So we have to go through with a fine-tooth comb to define where that line is on the ground,” he said in a January 2018 interview with The Gleaner.

“That is why we have to do a ground truth to see precisely where the boundary will lie, and then that is going to be gazetted and become a part of the official records for where the boundary is,” he added.

In the months since the July 2018 start of work on the ground truth for the boundary, the Forestry Department has covered 102 km.

They have another 147.77 km of ground to cover, as part of the ground truth, which, according to one forestry officer, is the “empirical evidence that you collect on the ground as against what you deduce from any in-house system or process such as a drawing on the computer or other data that does not show what is happening now”.

The process has reportedly not been without challenges.

“Persons have totally destroyed/smashed some of the permanent monuments. These will have to be replaced at additional cost at a later date,” Headley said.

Monuments refer to the markers used by surveyors to mark the boundary for any enclosed feature being captured, such as a parcel of land along the boundary, during ground truth.

It was not immediately clear how many monuments have been destroyed or the associated cost to replace them.