Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Donor Shakes The Bajan Dust From His Shoes – Forced Out By Government Abuse
Like all Barbados news media outlets, we received the below “letter to the editor” from Stuart Heaslet at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary on Tuesday, June 12, 2007. We held off publishing it as, frankly, we wanted to see what the Barbados print and broadcast media would do with it. We particularly wanted to see whether or not Barbados largest circulation newspaper would print the letter.
In the past, the government-fearing lapdog Nation News has been caught red-handed censoring letters and news concerning the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. (See Outrage As Deceitful Nation News Censors Letter From National Park Donor Peter Allard)
We wondered what they would do with this story now – that one of Barbados’ premier natural showpieces has been put up for sale and the millionaire philanthropist who poured millions into Barbados and asked for nothing is shaking the Bajan dust from his shoes and moving on.
There are many good folks behind the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, but without Canadian philanthropist Peter Allard pouring US$20 million into this last mangrove swamp, by now the place would be a concrete jungle of condos and hotels instead of a wonderful gift to the people of Barbados.
But now the nature sanctuary is for sale and Mr. Allard is pulling out of Barbados.
Peter Allard is not stopping his philanthropic projects – far from it. He just won’t be giving tens of millions of dollars to Barbados anymore.
And THAT, my friends, is a NEWS STORY.
Date: 12 June 2007
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
As many of you are aware, the advertisement for the sale of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary is currently in the London Times and International Herald Tribune. Details are at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary website (link here for PDF file)
The general mood on our part is one of sadness, as Peter Allard, owner of the Sanctuary, has spent years attempting to do good environmental work in Barbados. My job has been to execute his mission of environmental preservation and education, not just for the lands owned by the Sanctuary, but for the surrounding environmentally sensitive buffer lands owned by Government, and a few private owners.
It has been our experience that national legacies of environmental conservation and preservation must stem from government-led initiatives and policies that reflect the national pride in those lands which are most significant. We have experience supporting other governments and organizations in this regard, notably the Morne Diablotin National Park project in Dominica, which was successfully declared by Parliament after 27 months of cooperative effort and fundraising.
Over the past 14 years there has been significant offshore investment in the Sanctuary by Mr. Allard, under the mandate that responsible offshore investment should be socially and environmentally appropriate and ultimately transfer technologies to Barbados, to be run by 100% Barbadian management and staff. We have complied with the spirit and intent of this mandate.
Philanthropically speaking, we respect the sovereign responsibility of Barbados for its environmental legacy, and generally disagree with those who seek to transfer the responsibility for preserving the Barbados environment to private, for-profit interests. Progressive national environmental preservation, as well as cultural, recreational and agricultural opportunities, must belong to, and be managed directly by, the people and Government of Barbados. In this case, we fear that profit motives for the land at Graeme Hall outweigh those for preservation and the health and welfare of citizens on the South Coast.
Unfortunately, here in Barbados we have not received any substantive response or engagement from the Government of Barbados for well over a decade in regard to multiple, formal offers of land, finances, technical and management support for Government-led environmental preservation and national park initiatives.
Therefore, we are seeking, and investing in, alternative uses for Allard Family philanthropy.
We commend the efforts of The Friends of Graeme Hall (website here) and trust that they will continue to actively seek a partnership with the Government of Barbados to form, and manage, the proposed Graeme Hall National Park. That said, we are of course open to any last minute discussions with those in Government if they include a well thought out plan and commitments from the highest levels.
Oversight and Philanthropy
Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary (Barbados)
Barbados contact telephone: 246.428.2776
Note about the writer: For over ten years Mr. Heaslet has provided design, construction, programming, oversight and philanthropic services for Mr. Peter Allard at Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary.