The Cockpit Country, Jamaica: Boundary Issues in Assessing Disturbance and Using a Karst Disturbance Index in Protected Areas Planning

  • Michael Day
  • Alan Halfen
  • Sean Chenoweth


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.


National Park Forest Reserve Karst Area World Heritage Site Ring Road 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Many thanks to the indomitable field research team members: Bill Reynolds, Jeff Kueny, Ed Alt, Fatima Patel, Sean McMahon, Will Sharkey, Brendan White, Andrea Hall, Laura (Goetz) Smith, Mason Bindl, Sam Theis, and Brendan Vierk, and to our invaluable local guides Fenton “Hippie” Barrett, Hubert “Pem-Pem” Foster, and Ray Bailey. Thanks too to Ivor Connelly, of the Jamaica Caves Organization for his hospitality, friendship, and assistance in Jamaica, to Dave Barker and Dave Miller of UWI, Mona for their various assistance, and to Cindy Walker for her statistical advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of LouisianaMonroeUSA

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