Jamaica protects nearly 75K hectares, bans mining

KINGSTON, Jamaica - Jamaica's government says it will protect nearly 75,000 hectares (185,000 acres) in a northwest region dotted by mines that features forests, rivers and cultural sites.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says all mining will be banned in the area known as Cockpit Country. He says licenses awarded to companies which are mining there for bauxite and limestone will be amended and that current mining operations will cease.

Cockpit Country is home to a critically endangered frog species, a large population of the black-billed Amazon parrot and the largest butterfly in the Western hemisphere.

Holness said Tuesday that the government also will work with descendants of escaped slaves who live in the area and are known as Maroons to help manage resources.

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