Tag Archives: Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

Barbados mangrove wetland comes to Manitoba, Canada: March 25, 2012

Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre unveils a neotropical migratory bird exhibit.

Rare bird carvings donated by Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary in Barbados

Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba – Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre (OHMIC) will unveil its new Neotropical Migratory Bird exhibit on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. The exhibit re-creates the sights and sounds of a tropical mangrove wetland. It features a rare collection of 22 life-size bird carvings by the Skeete family of carvers that was donated by the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary in Barbados.

This unique collection, the largest know group of its kind in the world, is ideally-suited to the new exhibit that shows familiar migratory birds from Canada sharing an exotic mangrove wetland with resident Caribbean birds. Visitors will be invited to follow Wally, the Yellow Warbler, on his annual migration from Oak Hammock Marsh to the south. Arriving at Wally’s destination, visitors will use a viewing blind, binoculars, and interpretive signs to search for Wally among the mangroves that he shares with a variety of herons, egrets, and other resident Caribbean birds.

“The Interpretive Centre was thrilled to receive the generous donation of these exquisite and unique carvings” said Michele Kading – the Head of Interpretation at OHMIC.

“We were overwhelmed when Peter Allard and the Allard Family agreed to sponsor the creation of an exhibit that would not only showcase the beauty of these carvings but would enhance the Centre’s programs for public visitors as well as school groups.”

The new exhibit will help visitors to Oak Hammock Marsh realize the critical importance of Caribbean wetlands in the conservation of Neotropical birds.

Barbados migratory birds

Carved by Geoff Skeete and his son John Skeete, each of the 22 carvings is a life-sized replica of a bird living in the Caribbean that can be seen on the island of Barbados. Geoff Skeete, the elder artist, has had a keen interest in migratory shorebirds of North America that visit the island of Barbados annually in large numbers. Geoff’s wife Joan, who encouraged Geoff to get into this art form, paints each of her husband’s carvings with the colours and details of the living birds they represent. Continue reading

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Founder of Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary named Queen’s Counsel in Canada

Peter Allard has been named Queen’s Counsel by the Province of British Columbia. The Canadian businessman, lawyer and philanthropist is the founder and owner of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary in Barbados.

This is the second time Allard has been in the Canadian news recently. In September the Chief Justice of Canada opened Allard Hall – a new $55 million dollar law school building at the University of British Columbia that was helped along by a huge gift from Allard of 10 million dollars (Canadian). Allard also gave another 2 million to establish an international prize that supports freedom, integrity and human rights, and creates an online historical faculty archive.

As we related in our post The sad tale of a lost friend of Barbados Peter Allard was last in the news in Barbados when he penned an open letter to Bajans explaining why he had to close one of the island’s premier tourist attractions and why he is suing the Barbados government for dumping raw sewerage into the Graeme Hall wetlands and other violations of various treaties and agreements.

Allard explained the situation in a May 6, 2010 press release:

“The investment in the Sanctuary was supposed to be part of a sustainable environmental initiative, dependent on government leadership. As the largest private environmental stakeholder in Barbados, we continue to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to maintain the Sanctuary, but we all have to face the fact that it’s Government who is killing the wetland.   The study shows that our environmental commitment and investment cannot withstand this assault.”

… Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary owner Peter Allard in a May 6, 2010 press release.

At one time Allard was in love with Barbados and focused his philanthropic efforts here. Since coming into conflict with the corrupt Bajan elites though, Allard has funded projects in Africa, Canada and elsewhere in the Caribbean including St. Vincent and Dominica where he helped establish a National Park.

Allard’s problem in Barbados is with our corrupt politicians

Barbados politicians and their land developer friends want to profit from the sale and commercial development of environmentally-protected lands, including public lands once designated for two National Parks. Allard opposed this rape of our natural heritage and that was the end of his relationship with the powerful elites.

How much do the corrupt politicians and their land developer friends hate Allard?

Then PM Owen Arthur and Health Minister Liz Thompson denied the people of Barbados a multi-million dollar cancer and AIDS hospice rather than accept it from Peter Allard with no strings attached. Given a choice between accepting philanthropy from Allard or not, the corrupt politicians preferred our loved ones to die in pain in that filthy hole called the Queen Elizabeth Hospital instead of spending their last days well looked after in a beautiful place with their family members.

That, my friends, takes a lot of corruption and hate but Arthur and Thompson had more than enough.

Congratulations to Peter Allard

Congratulations to Peter Allard upon being honoured by the Canadian government. We wish he had had a better experience in Barbados, but if it’s any comfort he’s not the only philanthropist or foreign investor to be set up and taken advantage of ‘pon de rock. The real losers are we Bajans and our children and grand-children who will never know the National Parks and green space that Allard and others fought for.

Here is the press release from the Government of British Columbia, received via Google Alerts…. Continue reading

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The sad tale of a lost friend of Barbados

UPDATED: September 23, 2011

Watch Live webcast of Allard Hall Opening Ceremony Today

(Friday, Sept 23/11: 10am British Columbia time, 1pm Barbados time)

>>> Watch the live web broadcast here <<<

Chief Justice of Canada, other dignitaries to open UBC’s Allard Hall

Peter Allard to speak live on webcast

We see that the British Columbia University law school has moved into their new building, Allard Hall. The official opening is Friday, September 23, 2011 10am British Columbia, 1pm Barbados time.

“The building was named Allard Hall in honour of UBC graduate Peter Allard, a Vancouver businessman, former lawyer, and principal at Peterco Holdings Ltd., who in July contributed $11.86 million to the faculty — one of the largest donations to a law school in Canadian history. Of the donation, $9.83 million will go towards the new building.”  … from Canadian Lawyer Mag

UBC website: About Allard Hall

“Our profession has more impact on our society than any other. When we do our job well, we see that the Rule of Law is upheld and we protect our clients, our neighbors and fellow citizens against the vagaries of unchecked abuses of power and corruption.”

… taken from Peter Allard’s remarks to be delivered live today via webcast. (PDF of Allard’s speech here.)

Our original story below tells the of Canadian Philanthropist Peter Allard and his history with Barbados.

If anyone out there has any updates on the situation with the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary and the Graeme Hall Wetlands, we’d love to hear about it.

A sad, sad tale for ordinary Barbadians as our government ‘leaders’ sell off and develop the last major green space between the airport and the city. Why don’t we just pave over the whole damn island and be done with it?

Original story below…

Philanthropist Peter Allard donates CDN$12 million to Canadian university

Why not to Barbados?

We haven’t heard much lately about Canadian businessman and philanthropist Peter Allard. The owner of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary was last in the news in Barbados when he penned an open letter to Bajans explaining why he had to close one of the island’s premier tourist attractions and why he is suing the Barbados government for dumping raw sewerage into the Graeme Hall wetlands and other violations of various treaties and agreements.

As Allard said in a May 6, 2010 press release:

“The investment in the Sanctuary was supposed to be part of a sustainable environmental initiative, dependent on government leadership. As the largest private environmental stakeholder in Barbados, we continue to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to maintain the Sanctuary, but we all have to face the fact that it’s Government who is killing the wetland.   The study shows that our environmental commitment and investment cannot withstand this assault.”

… Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary owner Peter Allard in a May 6, 2010 press release.

We at BFP don’t understand why there has been such hostility by some in government towards Peter Allard – or maybe we do understand. Let us explain… Continue reading

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Environmental Protection Department’s 40th Anniversary Sham

Environmental Tour to avoid Graeme Hall sluice gate (above photo), West Coast beach disaster, Mount Stinkeroo

Don’t ask why Barbados lacks environmental protection legislation or off the bus you go!

Barbados is celebrating 40 years of no environmental protection legislation with a carefully staged bus tour this Saturday. A press release from the BGIS says,

EPD rides to visit wetlands, mangroves

A glimpse into the wetlands and mangroves of Barbados will be given when the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) hosts a bus tour as part of its 40th Anniversary Celebrations.

The free tour, which also falls during Environment Month, will be held on Saturday, June 18.  It will offer the public the opportunity to see some of the island’s greener locales and ecosystems first hand, while learning more about what and where they are and how they develop.

It all sounds so environmentally positive, doesn’t it? Just the use of the words “mangroves”, “wetlands” and “ecosystems” has me seeing green and feeling good about our island home. That is, if I ignore the abandoned refrigerators just west of Grape Hall, forget about the Shell jet fuel in the south coast water wells and don’t look at the the green/brown effluent at Bathsheba that flows into the sea.

In one sense, we can’t blame the Environmental Protection Department workers for wanting to celebrate the very existence and survival of their abused and underfunded department. It’s not their fault that for over 40 years successive governments deliberately failed to pass Environmental Protection Legislation or give the EDP proper tools to do the job.

Both the DLP and the BLP preferred to take cash political donations from the corporate polluters instead of putting Barbados first.

Polluters don’t like environmental laws, so our politicians took their money and delivered what they were supposed to: no environmental legislation, protection of corporate polluters, and profits to the auto dealers and road construction companies.

So now we have a legacy of 40 years of no environmental laws, wholesale rape and development of the last remaining wetlands, and a transportation policy that involves ever more roads and ever more vehicles. The construction, auto industries and politicians make the money, while our island is paved over bit by bit. Sounds about right if you have an offshore account in Switzerland or Miami.

“We” borrowed tens of millions for a West Coast sewer project – then spent the money on something else (probably more roads for more cars) and left the sewerage flowing into the water table, the RAMSAR wetlands and the sea.

The politicians and their developer friends are deliberately killing the last remaining mangrove forest at Graeme Hall – and God forbid that Barbados should ever have modern garbage disposal / power creation facilities as do some modern small island nations. Oh no! We’d rather just pile the stuff higher and higher and let the poisons leach into the water and sea – that is when it doesn’t touch off itself and burn for a few months or a year. It’s not called Mount Stinkeroo for nothing, ya know!

So enjoy the bus trip folks, but when you get to the wetlands, ask the tour guide why successive governments have refused to repair the RAMSAR Wetlands sluice gate for 15 years. When you drive by the West Coast, ask why the government approved the groynes that destroyed the beaches. Ask how much money the DLP and BLP received from Shell Oil and the Simpsons of auto-dealer fame. Ask why Barbados has no Environmental Protection Act.

Don’t let the “celebration” go to waste. Demand answers and make some noise.

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National Geographic quotes Barbados PM at Nobel Laureate Symposium – Perpetuates the Con Job

PM Stuart talks “Global Sustainability” while destroying the last mangrove forest on the island


National Geographic VP John Francis fooled into thinking words equal action

Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart just returned from the third Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability where he rubbed shoulders with Nobel prize winners and famous and not so famous environmentalists and world leaders.

Not only did PM Stuart attend the conference in Stockholm, Sweden – he played an active role with the UN High-level Panel on Global Sustainability and conducted an open discussion with the crowd. Former US President Bill Clinton listened to our Prime Minister quote Martin Luther King: “There is no deficit in human resources, the deficit is in human will.”

National Geographic quoted Freundel Stuart like he really meant what he said and would back it up with action.

We at Barbados Free Press say…

“Our plea to National Geographic: Come to Barbados and see the destruction for yourself. Examine the reality, then write. Don’t empower those who say fine words but are really selling out our natural environment for money.”

While Freundel Stuart mouthed his fine words, back home his Democratic Labour Party government is conducting a strategic campaign to destroy the last remaining mangrove forest on the island so it can be commercially developed. Money has always trumped the natural environment in Barbados and Stuart’s DLP is continuing the practice. Continue reading

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Shan Bovell: “If we protect our environment, we protect our tourism.”

Shan Bovell of The Lodge School won Second Place and $500 in Ages 14-18 in the recent Canada-Barbados Environmental Essay Contest. Here is her excellent essay…

Why is the Environment Important to Barbados?

In an underdeveloped country, don’t drink the water; in a developed country, don’t breathe the air (Changing Times Magazine). The environment is the most fundamental unit of life for Barbados. It’s funny how the government only thinks about the environment when something drastic happens or when Mother Nature lays her hands on us. We have taken this key and unlocked a whole new world but haven’t been showing it the gratitude it deserves.

For too long we’ve been changing out environment to suit out needs or should we say “moving the earth to please” as the motto of C.O. Williams Construction Company says. Continue reading

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Rhea Campbell: Journey Of The Corn Curl Wrapper

Rhea Campbell of The Ursuline Convent School won an Honorable Mention in Ages 9-13 in the recent Canada-Barbados Environmental Essay Contest. Here is her excellent essay…

Journey Of The Corn Curl Wrapper

The bell rang signalling the end of break. While Jenny and Kurt were walking back to class, she noticed that Kurt threw his corn curl wrapper on the ground without a second thought. Jenny scolded him about the harm the wrapper could cause; but Kurt just shrugged it off and continued walking to the classroom.

Now Kurt lived next door to his school. All that afternoon the wind was high: one gust blew the wrapper over the fence and into his mother’s garden bed of exotic Heliconia seedlings. A few days later, while Kurt’s mother was tending to her young plants, she noticed that a small bunch of seedling had withered. When she took a closer look, she saw the base of the stems smothered by a corn curl wrapper. On removing the wrapper, she realized the trapped heat had caused a scorching effect on the tiny stems. In her haste to save the little plants she forgot to discard the corn curl wrapper properly. Continue reading

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Environmental essay contest winner Dudley Ellis: “Many people fail to see the bridge between the environment and the economy.”

“Barbados… you decide”

Dudley Ellis of Harrison College took 1st Place honours and won a cool $1,250 in the Age 14-18 category of the 2011 national Canada-Barbados Environmental Essay Contest.

Hey, I’d be smiling too!

Here is Dudley’s winning essay…

Why is the Environment Important to Barbados?

Too very often we look at the environment as something that provides aesthetic pleasure for both locals and tourists alike. However, have we ever consciously taken the time to contemplate what Barbados would be like without a healthy environment? A disease-ridden, desolate and underdeveloped rock is what one could hazard as the possibility. The benefits to be derived from the environment are too numerous for one to exhaust. Among this myriad of advantages, things such as economic sustainability, improved general health of the populace and social inclusiveness are of key note.

Many people fail to see the bridge between the environment and the economy. Continue reading

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Barbados Environmental Essay Contest: $4,000 in cash prizes

Contest Submission Deadline is fast approaching!

Submission deadline is February 19, 2011 in the first Annual Environmental Essay Contest for students ages 9-18. Continue reading

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Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary re-opens for one day only

UPDATED: January 30, 2011

Whew! What a great day at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary.

Lots of folks, lots of kids and lots of fun. The place was beautiful and you could tell the staff worked hard to get it into shape for the day. I hope this means that something is happening to re-open the sanctuary on a permanent basis for ordinary folks and also because our tourism product desperately needs this attraction on the south coast.

The Nation covered the opening in their story: A day at the Sanctuary

All Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Exhibits and Trails

Open to Public on Saturday, January 29, 2011

Time:  9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

On Saturday, January 29, 2011, all exhibits and interpretive walkways through the mangroves and upland areas at Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary will be open to the public.

This event is for one day only. Continue reading

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Youths, Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, save rare Osprey in Barbados

Bird’s mate never gave up. Soared above Graeme Hall every day calling for partner.

Wildlife caretakers released an osprey back into the wild this past week after it had undergone rehabilitation for injuries and malnutrition.

The osprey had been brought to the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary by a group of youths.  The bird was weak, severely dehydrated and could not fly because of severe degradation of its muscle mass.  Dr. John Duckhouse, the consulting veterinarian for the Sanctuary began an immediate regimen of antibiotics and protein-rich fish diet.

The hand-fed diet consisted largely of sprats, a herring-like fish, beginning with 3 sprats the first day of the rescue.  The osprey was eating 16 sprats a day by the end of the rehabilitation.

The rescue and rehabilitation was managed by Sanctuary manager Barbara Garcia and staffer Paul Rochester.  While the rehabilitation was underway, the osprey’s mate continued to fly over the Sanctuary calling for its stricken companion.

The release was done from the Lakeside Lawn area of the Sanctuary.

As Sanctuary staff and wildlife experts watched, the bird flew down the little hill gathering speed as it then began climbing to meet its mate who was waiting high above over the lake.

The Sanctuary Cafe and Lakeside Lawn Now Open!

The beautiful and tranquil SANCTUARY CAFE and Lakeside Lawn of the Sanctuary are now open to the public on a limited basis. However, there are no tours of the rest of the facility, and all Interpretive walkways, Aviaries and Exhibits remain closed to the public. Continue reading

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One day’s work on Graeme Hall sluice gate proves 15 years of neglect by Barbados Government

UPDATED: January 20, 2012

We see The Nation carried the Barbados Government Information Service announcement that Worthing Beach was to be closed on January 19th “while the sluice gates at the beach are opened for routine maintenance.”

The last time this happened (on November 12, 2010 – see below) there was no real maintenance on the sluice gates – the government just moved the pile of sand blocking the channel. This is a big deal, my friends, because developer friends of the government want the wetlands killed so they can build on them. The long term abuse of leaving the sluice gate broken is designed to kill the last mangrove forest in Barbados so the friends of government can profit from developing the wetlands.

QUESTION: Was this “routine maintenance” of the Graeme Hall wetlands sluice gate merely removing the sand again… or did they repair the broken sluice gate so the mangrove swamp can be refreshed and “breathe” from the sea?

GRAEME HALL NATURE SANCTUARY: Let’s hear from you! What is the truth?

NOTE: See the comments for a reader reporting that the gate was NOT repaired on the 19th. The operation only involved moving sand – and the channel was damaged.

UPDATED: November 12, 2010

Government announcement was a Sham.

No repairs made to Graeme Hall sluice gate.

Last mangrove forest dying before our eyes.

The announced repairs to the sluice gate at the Graeme Hall wetlands never happened. Government workers arrived and did their usual digging out of the sand, then filled in the channel a day later after draining some water. The gates were not repaired or replaced.

The deliberate destruction of a precious natural heritage site continues. Government is obviously doing this out of vindictiveness in the ongoing legal dispute with Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary owner Peter Allard.

It just shows you that Government officials think the wetlands and green space are theirs to destroy and develop.

Those wetlands and green space belong to the people of Barbados. Peter Allard spent tens of millions of dollars cleaning up the wetlands and volunteered to look after them for us for a while. It was his generous gift to the people of Barbados, but the developer friends of government had other ideas. So Allard he shut down his Nature Sanctuary and Barbados lost big time: 100 jobs, green space, tourism and hope for the future – all gone.

Here’s our original story: Read it ‘an weep…

Repair on sluice gate a result of lawsuit or new-found environmental conscience?

Ian Bourne’s Bajan Reporter says that the Government of Barbados is finally displaying a conscience because the Drainage Division will be working on the forever-broken Graeme Hall sluice gate for 14 hours today, Friday October 29, 2010.

For over a decade two successive governments deliberately neglected the sluice gate in an attempt to destroy the Graeme Hall wetlands so they can be sold and developed for profit.

As a direct result of a sluice gate left broken for fifteen years…

- The last mangrove forest on the island is dying, perhaps irreversibly on its way out.

- A premier tourist attraction, the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, closed with the loss of a hundred jobs.

- An international complaint was lodged against Barbados by nature sanctuary owner Peter Allard.

- International investors and philanthropists look upon Barbados with suspicion after Allard shut down his sanctuary and gave his millions elsewhere. Many observers believe that what happened to the Canadian philanthropist Peter Allard (and some other foreign investors) could happen to anyone. We’re not so sure they are wrong.

You think the world doesn’t know what happened in Barbados?

Now we’re told that a lousy 14 hours of work will solve the whole thing?

THAT IS DISGUSTING!

What an indictment of the BLP and DLP governments! Continue reading

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The theft of two Barbados National Parks by friends of government.

Barbados National Trust President Dr. Karl Watson seeks government promise to comfort him.

Publicly surrenders to lying politicians and their developer friends.

Dr. Karl Watson, the President of the Barbados National Trust, was in the paper recently saying he “eagerly awaited the day when the formal Cabinet decision to legally establish the National Park of Barbados would become reality.”

He urged the government to withstand pressure from “real estate barons” and to save the Scotland District from the urban sprawl creeping across Barbados. He wanted a “guarantee” from politicians that we will have some green space left.

But then in the next breath, Dr. Watson predicted that stopping the urbanisation of the island is a lost cause. I had to read his quotes three times to convince myself that he said it, but it’s there. Unless we hear that he was somehow grossly misquoted, the Doctor surrendered.

What Dr. Watson must realize and didn’t want to say, is that the “real estate barons” and those in government who control the land use are as one.

This island’s two promised National Parks and other green space may be doomed, but it is not because those in government cannot “withstand the pressure” from the real estate barons. Our green space is doomed because our political elites ARE the “real estate barons” who directly and indirectly profit from land speculation and development. Continue reading

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The broken sluice gate the Barbados Government refuses to repair – killing our Ramsar wetlands

This broken sluice gate is the weapon being used to destroy our last mangrove wetlands

The government-owned and controlled sluice gate should regulate the flow of water in and out of the Graeme Hall mangrove wetlands. When operating properly, it lets the wetlands “breathe” and refresh itself from the sea. It keeps the brackish water (brackish = salt and fresh water mix) at the correct salinity to allow the mangroves, plants and all creatures great and small to thrive.

Without a properly operating sluice gate, the mangrove wetlands die as do many plant and animal species that inhabit the Ramsar-designated Graeme Hall wetlands.

Successive Barbados governments have refused to repair or replace the broken sluice gate for at least 15 years that I know of. Successive Barbados governments have refused offers from the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary to repair or replace the sluice gate at the Sanctuary’s cost and operate it under government supervision.

Why would that be?

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Why would the Barbados government deliberately refuse to repair or replace the sluice gate for 15 years?

Barbados Free Press suspects that the long term goal of certain persons is to destroy the wetlands so they can then be developed. Graeme Hall would be worth a huge pile of money if developed.

The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary launched an international complaint about the government’s actions. Read about the background here, here and…

Investor files international complaint – says Barbados government violated agreement with Canada, failed to protect Canadian investment in Barbados and…

Major Environmental Engineering study slams Barbados Government over imminent death of last Mangrove wetland.

Flood Control

Besides controlling the environmental health of the mangrove wetlands, the sluice gate is also used for flood control – to lower the level of the water during times of heavy rains when the wetlands act as a giant reservoir to prevent flooding of the surrounding area.

Because our government deliberately refuses to repair the sluice gate, the folks responsible for flood control use construction equipment to block the channel with sand – or remove the sand – as needed to control the water level in the wetlands.

As we reported yesterday, the government dug out the sand two days ago for a time to lower the water level and then filled the channel again. (See BFP’s Potential flooding forces Barbados Government to unblock Graeme Hall Wetlands sluice gate)

The photos of the broken sluice gate to the sea and the channel were taken on Wednesday morning and afternoon, May 19, 2010 after the government blocked the channel again with sand. (Big Thanks to three readers who responded to our request for photos!)

Does that sluice gate look high-tech to you? Does it look like there’s a technical reason why it couldn’t have been repaired or replaced 15 years ago? Does it look like rocket science with the latest alloys? Is it made of gold?

I think readers will find it as obvious as we do: the non-repair and non-operational state of the government-owned sluice gate is deliberate.

Once you see the simple truth of these photos, the question becomes Why is our government doing this to OUR last remaining mangrove wetlands?

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Click on each photo to view full size (800 x 600).

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Potential flooding forces Barbados Government to unblock Graeme Hall Wetlands sluice gate

Is it the power of blogs or a mere coincidence that late yesterday or early this morning government sent heavy equipment to remove sand from in front of the (Graeme Hall RAMSAR wetlands) sluice gate and in the canal to allow some of the water that has built up due to recent rains to be released into the sea?

Of course all of the garbage, plastic bottles etc that were trapped behind the gate will now go into the sea and wash back on the beach.

Let us wait and see how long they will allow the flow to continue. Will they wait until locals and tourists complain about the “coloured” water in the sea?

How much easier it would be to have an operable sluice gate or mechanism that allows easy and frequent management of the flow of water as recommended by the ARA study in 1997.

… posted as a comment by BFP regular reader Nostradamus

For background on how and why the Barbados Government has deliberately allowed the vital Graeme Hall RAMSAR Wetlands sluice gate fall to pieces and the channel be blocked with sand and garbage, read BFP’s article Major Environmental Engineering study slams Barbados Government over imminent death of last Mangrove wetland. Government destroying RAMSAR natural heritage site.

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Major Environmental Engineering study slams Barbados Government over imminent death of last Mangrove wetland. Government destroying RAMSAR natural heritage site.

“The investment in the Sanctuary was supposed to be part of a sustainable environmental initiative, dependent on government leadership. As the largest private environmental stakeholder in Barbados, we continue to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to maintain the Sanctuary, but we all have to face the fact that it’s Government who is killing the wetland.   The study shows that our environmental commitment and investment cannot withstand this assault.”

… Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary owner Peter Allard in a May 6, 2010 press release.

Unchecked pollution, government inaction puts migratory bird stop at risk

A new environmental study sharply critical of the Government of Barbados shows the key Graeme Hall mangrove wetland is disappearing due to outside pollution and poor water quality.

The Graeme Hall wetland is the last remaining mangrove in Barbados – a red mangrove forest that has existed for no less than 1,300 years. It is the only wetland in Barbados recognized internationally under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar). It acts as a Caribbean flyway stop for migratory birds between North and South America.

The extensive 800 page study (download PDF here) prepared for the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary by Environmental Engineering Consultants of Tampa, Florida shows the Sanctuary has suffered a 77 per cent reduction in salinity in the past ten years due to an inoperative government-run sluice gate. The huge reduction signals “an inevitable failure of the mangrove ecosystem” as freshwater flora and fauna take over.

The study also cites damaging factors including: dumping of raw sewage into the wetland instead of the sea by the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant; contaminated storm water runoff originating from 1,150 acres of government-managed drainage systems; and, commercial and residential pollutants from adjoining properties.

“The government owned and operated sluice gate failure confirms our worst fears,” said Stuart Heaslet, an official with Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. “It means that as the mangrove forest dies, it will not grow back because freshwater plants are taking over.”

The original environmental investment in the Sanctuary was based on the area being protected as a brackish mangrove ecosystem.

“The study confirms that Government-controlled pollution is being dumped into the wetland.   Despite our formal offers of technical and financial assistance to government, there has been no response.  We can’t defend ourselves against pollution and environmental mismanagement outside our boundaries.  Bird counts are down, crabs are disappearing, and we are seeing environmental degradation everywhere.”

Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary occupies 42 per cent of the Ramsar wetland at Graeme Hall, and is owned by Peter Allard, a Canadian investor and philanthropist who has put more than US $35 million into the 35-acre eco-tourism site to preserve the last significant mangrove woodland and wetland on the island.

“The investment in the Sanctuary was supposed to be part of a sustainable environmental initiative, dependent on government leadership,” said Allard. “As the largest private environmental stakeholder  in Barbados, we continue to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to maintain the Sanctuary, but we all have to face the fact that it’s Government who is killing the wetland.   The study shows that our environmental commitment and investment cannot withstand this assault.”

… continue reading this major Environmental Engineering study by downloading the PDF from the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

BFP Comments

We’ll have more to say tomorrow morning after we digest the entire study, but the first 20 pages leave us shocked, saddened and angry at the devastation being wrought by our government.

No doubt this will be a major discussion topic at next week’s Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development being held from May 9 through 12, 2010 in Bridgetown, Barbados. Here’s how the conference website describes the theme of this year’s meeting…

The theme for the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s 11th Annual Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development (STC-11) is “Creating Opportunities through a World Class Sustainable Tourism Product”. STC-11 will focus on how to capitalize on opportunities to enhance and sustain our tourism product by identifying and valuing unique and indigenous aspects of our tangible and intangible heritage which need to be conserved for the enjoyment of our citizens and visitors.

Issues to be discussed will include the need for destination stewardship and conservation of our heritage assets in the face of various threats; the use of innovation and creativity to develop, interpret and market our heritage tourism products responsibly; the financing of sustainable tourism projects; enriching the visitor experience and the role of public, private and non-governmental organizations and communities in doing so.

Valuable learning opportunities will be provided through the sharing of local and international best practices. Delegates will also be able to participate in interesting discussions and study tours that will showcase how the host country, Barbados, conserves and manages its natural, cultural and built heritage and addresses associated challenges.

Yup, a tour to the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary while reading a copy of the report should prove to be most interesting for the delegates.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment, Nature, Offshore Investments, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism, Wildlife

Barbados Advocate accurately reports Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary press release!

Watchers of news media and political elites stunned as one of Barbados’ major newspapers apparently ceases censorship of story.

For years the oldstream Barbados news media has censored and politically-spun stories about the environmental and foreign investment disaster at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary and the Canadian eco-tourism investor who is claiming mistreatment by two successive Barbados governments. This censorship and agenda-driven reporting by the Barbados news media includes…

- completely ignoring major story developments, including the launching of an international treaty complaint.
– re-wording nature sanctuary press releases to remove references to government incompetence or wrongdoing.
– failure to fairly report the central issues being contested between the government and the sanctuary and how these issues impact the Bajan public.
– failure to report the government’s removal of environmental protections for Graeme Hall lands so developers can profit from a national public treasure.
– false reporting designed to conceal the public support for the sanctuary and the proposed Graeme Hall National Park. (For instance, reporting that “hundreds” attended special Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary free day when TEN THOUSAND supporters attended.)
– re-writing history: falsely reporting that the new shorebird sanctuary project is a “first” for Barbados (Ya. Right) while not mentioning Graeme Hall.
– refusing to confront elected and appointed government officials for their agenda of putting corporate profiteering before the long-term interests of our country.

News Media Agenda of Deceit

This news media agenda of deceit in support of the interests of business and political elites was interrupted yesterday when the Barbados Advocate published a fair and accurate report of a press release issued by the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. (Press release and Barbados Advocate story both shown below.)

Frankly, we were surprised and incredibly pleased to see the Barbados Advocate story “Ministry not supportive of Nature Sanctuary”, but we don’t know if this is a major change in policy by the Barbados Advocate – or perhaps the mistake of a junior editor on the weekend who didn’t know the “official” position of silence on this story.

I guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks what happened to cause the Barbados Advocate to print … (gasp!) the truth! We’ll also see if any reporters ask Barbados Environment Minister Lowe about the total disconnect between his version of events and that being claimed by Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary.

Here’s the Barbados Advocate article… (240k to download)

and here’s the original press release from the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary…

The Future of Graeme Hall:  Setting the Record Straight
[ Christ Church , BARBADOS , February 14, 2010]

The Government of Barbados has not responded to requests for constructive meetings with the owner of Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary to discuss the future of Graeme Hall in over a year.

“Except for an introductory meeting in January 2009 with Minister Denis Lowe of the Ministry of Environment, Water Resources and Drainage, nobody from government has called back and agreed to substantive meetings,” said Stuart Heaslet, the owner’s representative for the Sanctuary.  “This is despite our outreach efforts and multiple trips to Barbados .” Continue reading

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Barbados Environment Minister caught lying again about Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Dispute

Richard Nixon: “I am not a crook.”

Bill Clinton: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

Environment Minister Denis Lowe:

“Environment Minister, Dr. Denis Lowe says the re-opening of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary is up to the owners, but government remains committed to doing all it can to ensure it happens.

He says he’s looking forward to having discussion with the owners of the sanctuary soon.

According to the minister, a working group has been set up to help government coordinate its vision for the sanctuary with the owner.

Dr. Lowe says the survival of the sanctuary has never been in question for the DLP administration which has inherited a strained relationship with the owners.” (Total lies from the Government mouthpiece CBC article Graeme Hall Talks)

Government Refused to Communicate with Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary since January 2009!

The last time that Environment Minister Lowe met with representatives from the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary was over a year ago in January of 2009.  At that time, Dr. Lowe was again informed that the government-controlled sluice gate into the wetlands had been broken for five years.

Environment Minister Lowe said he’d “get right back” to the Sanctuary representatives about the sluice gate and the other concerns that caused the Sanctuary owner to shut the facility.

Dr. Lowe never contacted the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary again. That remains true a year later in February 2010. The sluice gate is still broken and wildlife species are still dying in the sanctuary as a result.

Now Denis Lowe has the audacity to lie to the Bajan public about what has and is being done by the government about the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. It’s a damned shame that the CBC reporter didn’t ask a few more simple questions but the truth is he or she might have but the Prime Minister’s pal Leroy Parris is in charge at the CBC.

The same tall tale is in the Barbados Advocate and wonder of wonders – that story doesn’t talk about any of the central issues either. Nothing about the change in land permissions to allow development on the Graeme Hall watershed. Nothing about the demise of the Graeme Hall National Park first proposed in the government’s land plans around 1982. Nothing about the government’s refusal for six years to repair the sluice gate that regulates the health of the wetlands. Nothing about the fact that the Canadian investor behind the nature sanctuary recently filed allegations of international treaty violations by the Government of Barbados.

Nope. Not a word of the big issues in the Bajan media. According to Minister Lowe and his government, it’s all a “personal dispute” with the owner doan ya know! Not a word about the theft of a National Park from the people of Barbados.

‘nuf said.

Barbados Government cut off water to Nature Sanctuary wildlife

Just so you know the truth

The government did one crucial thing this past December though: it cut off the water to the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary over a billing dispute about water. You can read the nature sanctuary press release for the details, but the short form is this…

When the government workers arrived at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary and shut off the water service and chopped the pipe (not just lock it!) it wasn’t about a billing dispute. It was just one more step in the constructive expropriation of a foreign investor’s assets by the political and business elites of Barbados.

Dr. Lowe’s current lies in the Barbados news media are designed to manage public talk about what happened when the DLP Government changed the land use permissions to allow development of the Graeme Hall wetlands and watershed. The David Thompson government took away a planned National Park from the people of Barbados and arranged for land developer friends to profit from the move.

The Barbados news media is assisting to keep the people in the dark and refuses to cover the central issues of the Graeme Hall story – when they talk about it at all.

And that’s the way it is this morning in Barbados.

Further Reading

Bajan Reporter, January 29, 2010: BREAKING NEWS – Promised Meeting with Graeme Hall Officials Fails to Materialise When Barbadian Government Officials Refuse to Respond

Bajan Reporter, December 21, 2009: Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary – who’s REALLY hurting from the closure?

Bajan Reporter, October 30, 2009: Canadian Alleges Treaty Violations by Barbados

Here’s the current article in the Barbados Advocate. Check out their website to get your own copy, but we’ll post it here in its entirety because the Barbados news media regularly changes history by removing articles from their electronic and paper archives. (click on image for 200k Jpeg file)

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Environment, Nature, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption, Wildlife