The Cockpit Country, Jamaica: Boundary Issues in Assessing Disturbance and Using a Karst Disturbance Index in Protected Areas Planning Research Paper
The Cockpit Country is Jamaica’s only remaining pristine karst area and is perhaps the most significant karst landscape in the Caribbean. It may be a candidate for UN World Heritage status but its boundaries are contentious. The Karst Disturbance Index (KDI) is an important tool for karst conservation, providing an objective numerical measure of the extent to which karst landscapes have been disrupted by human activities. Its application is, however, constrained by issues of boundary determination and location, and the Cockpit Country exemplifies this phenomenon when different boundaries are determined on geomorphic, historical, existing, and proposed management criteria. Analysis of land use data from 1998, together with extensive field surveys, reveals that the measure of the extent of human disturbance is closely related to the positioning of the boundary, with the incremental inclusion of peripheral areas beyond the core forest reserve resulting in a dramatic increase in the disturbance index. Not only is this a methodological concern in using the KDI, but it also illustrates how the KDI may be useful in planning and establishing potential protected area boundaries.
Area of Interest: Jamaica