One week ago, John Da Silva started a group on Facebook.com – Save The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary.
After only seven days, the group is heading for 3,000 members from all over the world. Yes, the Obama generation is saying “Yes We Can” in Barbados too!
I wanted to write a bit more about the unbelievable growth and worldwide membership that this Facebook group is experiencing, but I’m late for work (again!) and I’ll have to cut it short for now.
Here is the latest report by John Da Silva. Big things are happening, friends…
Report from John Da Silva to the Facebook Group: Save The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary
I had a productive meeting with the manager of the GHNS and a representative from the NGO, Friends of Graeme Hall. From that meeting, and from information I have received from different sources, it appears that the main point of contention is the lack of commitment from government for the creation of the Graeme Hall National Park. Without this commitment to the preservation of the entire area, the long term ecological viability of the GHNS cannot be assured, as development to the north and east of the Sanctuary (such as the Water Park that was proposed a few years ago) would seriously and negatively impact on the delicate ecosystem.
The government also needs to put in place a properly functioning sluice gate which will not only provide drainage to the wider area, but will also allow sea water, crucial for maintaining the ecological balance of the swamp, to enter. The present sluice gate has not worked properly for many years. The GHNS paid for staff from the relevant government departments to visit Florida on a fact finding mission to see the latest sluice gate technology used in the Everglades. Nothing, however, has come out of this visit to date.
Our best efforts in the short term will be to harness the membership of our group (fast approaching 3000) to illustrate to government that there is considerable grass roots support for the creation of the National Park, and by extension, saving the GHNS. I will be asking each member of this group to e-mail the newspapers, blogs, appropriate government officials, Ministers and the Prime Minister to let them know that our collective voices must and will be heard. I will provide some guidance on the content and tone of the message, and the contact information shortly, although what you write is completely up to you.
I am going to change the focus group to encompass the wider vision of the creation of the Graeme Hall National Park, of which the GHNS would be an important component. As Barbados becomes increasingly urbanised, such managed green spaces will provide an important natural respite for both residents and tourists. The GHNS and the proposed National Park will present an easily accessible ecological attraction that will provide the necessary balance to the over-exuberant coastal development now taking place.
I intend, as far as possible, to keep government politics out of our efforts, as such politics are not a friend of the people. I am not here to attack the lack of action of the previous BLP administration on the Graeme Hall issue or any perceived disrespect shown to Mr. Allard as a major investor in Barbados or as someone who tried to improve Barbados, first and foremost, for Barbadians. That is all in the past. What I am concerned about is making a change and empowering people to have their voices heard. For too long, we have boarded the bus once every five years but have had no say on where the bus goes only to be unhappy at where we end up at the end of the journey. Let us flex our collective muscle in a constructive and focused manner and make a difference.