Jamaican Caves Organisation

Parks in Peril Caves Component - Cockpit Country - Main Page




(Inventory of Caves in the Cockpit Country)







The JCO has been contacted with regard to the submission of a proposal to carry out an inventory of the caves of the Cockpit Country. Our proposed plan to carry out this inventory follows.


Project Summary


  1. As part of TNCís Conservation Project Planning process in FY04-5, caves and their biota were identified as important and sensitive elements of the Cockpit Country biodiversity, likely to require special conservation measures. In order to assess the need for conservation of cave ecosystems, TNC intends to develop an inventory of caves for the Cockpit Country. This will support the development and implementation of a Cockpit Country Biodiversity Management Plan that will be integrated into the Forestry Departmentís Forest Management Plan. Another related activity will be to help TNC-J to work with the Government of Jamaica to develop and adopt a national policy for conservation of caves and their biodiversity.
  2. The JCO proposes to assess the status, distribution, importance, condition (including threats), and conservation needs for the caves of the Cockpit Country, in order to identify short and long-term research and conservation needs, and to make the information available for use through a searchable database.
  3. The target-list for the proposed inventory includes all known caves in the area enclosed by the Cockpit Country ring road, and also all simple shafts and sinkholes that are deemed to be of hydrological or biological importance. (The criteria for assessment value of simple shafts and sinkholes will be determined by way of consultation with TNC-Jamaica prior to the commencement of the project.)


Project Details


The following activities will be carried out in consultation with TNC-Jís scientific staff, (please note that our specific plans for these activities are interspersed in the list):


  1. TNC-J Requirement: Design a format for a database of information on Cockpit Country caves. This will be based on the Jamaica Caves Organizationís existing database developed in conjunction with the National Planning and Environment Agency. It will include the physical, biological, social, economic and cultural aspects of caves, necessary to determining their importance for biodiversity conservation and monitoring changes over time.


  1. JCO Plan: Our existing database will be expanded to include additional factors and observations suited to the needs of TNC-Jamaica. These will be agreed upon in consultation between TNC and the JCO prior to the commencement of the project.


  1. TNC-J Requirement: Conduct field work to assess Cockpit Country caves. For the purposes of this project the Cockpit Country is defined as the area bounded by the ring road (see map attached.)


  1. JCO Plan: Members of our group will carry out the necessary field work in two sessions of 2-3 weeks each. A minimum of 24 days will be spent in the field, divided into 6-day periods. Each 6 day period will see us based in one of the following districts: Windsor; Albert Town; Quick Step; Accompong; Maroon Town. These bases have been selected to enable most of our targets to be within a one-hour drive/hike. The schedule will be flexible depending on conditions, i.e. we will take advantage of all opportunities to increase the efficiency of our output.


  1. TNC-J Requirement: Collate existing and new information on caves into the database


  1. JCO Plan: Existing databases, i.e. Fincham, JCO, will be used to supplement and verify new data obtained during the course of the project. The finished database will contain all known information on all of the known caves of the Cockpit Country, as defined by the ring road. It should be noted that we may encounter new caves during the course of the project and these will be included in the finished database.


  1. TNC-J Requirement: Produce a report identifying the priorities for cave conservation in the Cockpit Country. This will include recommendations for monitoring selected caves.


  1. JCO Plan: Filtering of the finished database should meet both of the required goals in this subsection. A summary report based on this filtering will be prepared that identifies priorities for cave preservation. In addition, it will identify those caves that are good candidates for future monitoring projects. These monitoring candidates will be listed in a separate appendix, as well as in the main database, with the rationale for their inclusion noted for every cave.





The main products of this assessment will be a written report (in both digital format and hard copy) summarizing the main findings and recommendations; a database of caves (in Excel); and an oral presentation to the Cockpit Country Advisory Committee.


Additional products will include:


  1. Arcview project files and accompanying map files that will enable the geographical placement of the caves of the Cockpit Country upon the digitized 1:50,000 Jamaican Metric Topographic map series to within an accuracy of+/- 3 pixels, (+/- 18m).
  2. Individual trip reports, for all of the caves visited, by each participating JCO member. These will include instructions for finding and accessing the caves.
  3. Recommendations on monitoring procedures that will minimize human disturbance to the monitoring candidate caves. These will be specific to each candidate cave.




Principal Investigator:


Stefan Stewart


Qualifications: Chair - JCO; Consultant to TNC-J, Jun 2002; Consultant to Dr McFarlane, Slueís Cave, May 2003; Consultant to JCF, Hutchinsonís Hole, Feb 2004; Consultant to UDC, Green Grotto, Mar 2004; Consultant to Dr Allsworth-Jones, Belle Air Cave, Jun 2004; Director - Windsor Research Centre


Current projects: Conducting a cave assessment project in St James, under NEPA permit, in collaboration with Dr D McFarlane, Keck Sci Ctr; Dr S Peck, Carleton U; Dr S Koenig, WRC. Collaborating, as cave invert specialist, in the Phyllonycteris aphylla Project, St Clair Cave, with Dr McFarlane, Dr Koenig, Dr Lundberg, and Ms A Donaldson, NEPA. Collaborating with Dr G Beccaloni, NHM, UK, in search for Nelipophygus sp. Project leader on the Karst Educational Video Project.


Address: xxxxxx

Phone: xxx-xxx-xxxx

Email: admin@jamaicancaves.org



Associate Investigator:


Ivor Courtney Conolley


Qualifications: Vice-Chair - JCO; Heritage Studies, UWI; Highly experienced technical caver.


Current projects: Assisting on archaeological dig at Sevilla la Nueva. Associate researcher, under NEPA permit, on the St James assessment project. Assisting with Phyllonycteris aphylla Project, St Clair Cave.


Address: Windsor District, Sherwood Content, Trelawny, Jamaica

Email: iscapc@cwjamaica.com




Several volunteers will assist us in this work, with individuals to be decided on prior to the start of the project. TNC-J will be notified of all additional personnel prior to their joining the team.





The project will be completed, and all data and reports submitted by, May 1, 2005. The actual fieldwork will take place in two sessions, in February and March, 2005. The JCO is currently committed to the P. aphylla project in January, and it is impossible for us to arrange the CC project in the time left between now and the New Year, (proposal submitted Nov 5/04). February and March also offer the driest conditions; this schedule will allow our work to be more efficient and will reduce the flood-risk. It must be noted that some of the caves we will be assessing are prone to flooding. JCO etiquette requires that we have zero casualties.










The JCO, and myself, are honoured to be part of this important project. We do not take our responsibilities in this matter lightly. We will strive to produce data, and recommendations, that will be instrumental in the preservation of what we love; the caves and karst of the Cockpit Country.


The JCO would like to thank TNC-J for the opportunity to submit this proposal, and to perhaps be part of one of the most important environmental projects to occur on the island to date.


Jah guide

Stefan Stewart

Chair Ė JCO

Nov 5, 2004