Target: The Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica
Goal: Halt development threatening the iguanas’ habitat, Jamaica’s biodiverse mangrove forests
Thought to be extinct, the Jamaican iguana has experienced a remarkable recovery since 1990, when one was found in Jamaica’s Hellshire Hills. With the help of programs that rear baby iguanas until they are big enough to be safe from predators, 255 iguanas have been released into Hellshire, a region part of the incredibly biodiverse Portland Bight Protected Area and one of the few places on Earth they can survive. Yet, even after investments of millions of dollars, along with the efforts of biologists and research volunteers over 24 years, the Jamaican iguana is still critically endangered.
Now, the Jamaican government has plans to reverse the area’s environmental protection laws and sell the Jamaican iguanas’ only other habitat, the Goat Islands nearby Hillshire, to China Harbour Engineering, Co., a conglomerate blacklisted by the World Bank for fraudulent practices. The company’s plants to construct a megafreighter seaport and industrial park, according to an article in CNN, would involve clear-cutting the islands’ vital mangrove forests, a natural protection against climate change, and dredging the surrounding coral reef ecosystems.
The development of the Goat Islands by China Harbour would threaten not only the diverse marine, plant, and animal life of the region, but also the people of Jamaica, where one fourth of jobs are tourism-based. Some have argued that the China Harbour development would create jobs, but in past projects, Chinese investors in Jamaica have employed mainly Chinese workers, and the Goat Islands development seems to promise no different.
Please sign the petition below, and urge the Jamaican government to uphold their environmental protection laws. The fate of the Jamaican iguana, the entire ecosystem, and the livelihoods of the local people hang in the balance.
Dear Prime Minister Simpson-Miller,
I am writing to bring your attention to the impending sale of the federally protected Goat Islands to China Harbour Engineering, Co. A conglomerate blacklisted by the World Bank for fraudulent practices, China Harbour would clear-cut mangrove forests and dredge coral reefs to construct a megafreighter seaport and industrial park within the incredibly biodiverse Portland Bight Protected Area.
This development poses a direct threat to the region’s vast array of marine, plant, and animal life, notably the iconic Jamaican iguana. Believed to be extinct until 1990, the iguana has experienced a remarkable recovery thanks to generous biologists, research volunteers, and international investors.
I urge you to uphold your national environmental protection laws and deny access China Harbour access to this vital habitat and site of eco-tourism. The survival of rare wildlife such as the Jamaican iguana and the livelihoods of your people depend upon your leadership.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Simon Tonge via Wikimedia Commons