How The Barbados Government Is Stealing Graeme Hall National Park From Our Children – With The Help Of The News Media – Part 1


The only difference with the DLP government passing this “urban corridor” instead of the BLP government is that now the DLP friends will profit from the move instead of the BLP friends.

CLICO Will Develop On The Natural Heritage Conservation Area – With Prime Minister Thompson’s Blessing

One of the first actions taken by the Thompson DLP Government in the weeks after they won the January 2008 election was to reclassify a huge section of land at Graeme Hall from “Open space, Agricultural, Recreational Buffer” to “Residential & Urban Corridor” – a term that was invented to sound non-threatening to the government-owned open space and recreational lands at Graeme Hall.

Corridor? Have a look at the map above. See the huge area outlined in red that is north of the “OS2 Natural Heritage Area”… THAT is the area that Prime Minister David Thompson and his DLP government changed so they can sell it off to their friends for development – contrary to the National Physical Development Plan that was ratified by Parliament in 1988.

The BLP Arthur/Mottley government wanted to do that too, but they never had the political capital to change the official land use designation. The BLP tried to lease some of the north area out for the Caribbean Splash Waterpark, but a rebellion of voters made them stop. Thompson and the DLP went right ahead though as just about the first thing they did after being elected. They still haven’t fulfilled their integrity legislation promises, but by God they sure acted quickly when they saw the chance to turn a profit from public lands!

Over 25 years ago that open space was set aside for the recreational pleasure of future generations as a plan to protect the last remaining green space between the airport and the city. Land use planners in the Barbados Town and Country Development Planning Office collaborated with professional land use planners from the United Nations to recommend a large green space buffer between the two urban areas of Greater Bridgetown and Oistins.

This recommendation was ratified by Parliament as part of the 1988 National Physical Development Plan and it was clear and unambiguous:

“The Graeme Hall agricultural area is proposed to be preserved as an open space break separating the urban zones of Oistins and Greater Bridgetown.”

“….The Graeme Hall area is proposed to be maintained as an agricultural area and as an urban open space in order to create an environmental break between the two urban areas.  Parts of the open spaces are proposed to be used for sports and recreational purposes.”

Powerful Entities Want To Possess And Profit From This Public Land!

Prime Minister Thompson and the DLP are pulling a fast one on the people of Barbados. The area they have just changed to allow development at Graeme Hall is currently owned by the people of Barbados. Thompson and the DLP will be selling the land to their developer friends. Heck, maybe they will sell it to themselves or to companies owned by their wives and relatives – after all, there is no law against such unethical insider trading in Barbados!

CLICO In The Mix

Look at the lower left corner of the map and you’ll see a chunk of land right next to the Nature Sanctuary and the RAMSAR wetlands. That land is owned by CLICO, but for some reason it wasn’t included in the area designated as protected under the RAMSAR wetlands treaty. Prime Minister David Thompson just gave ten million to his good friend and CLICO CEO Leroy Parris, but I guess it never occurred to Thompson to get a little something in return for the people of Barbados… like land for the Graeme Hall National Park.

Graeme Hall Wetlands To Be Developed By DLP Campaign Funder CLICO & Leroy Paris

Graeme Hall Wetlands To Be Developed By DLP Campaign Funder CLICO & Leroy Parris

Why That Open Space & Recreation Buffer Matters

The area that Prime Minister Thompson and his developer friends want to build on is part of the Graeme Hall watershed. Without that area, the RAMSAR protected wetlands at Graeme Hall will die. It is the DLP Government’s plan to end up with a small bit of green space surrounded by housing and condos. CLICO will develop their current land and friends of government will develop that huge valuable piece of prime Barbados real estate that Thompson has chopped off the proposed Graeme Hall National Park.

Declaring the Graeme Hall National Park would legally protect the last mangrove forest, the last major wetland, the largest inland lake, and the most concentrated biodiversity in Barbados. It would provide an easily accessible park area for the enjoyment of all and would be a lasting legacy to future generations – a refuge from the tightly-packed urban living that is crawling across this small island with a speed never before seen.

The great cities of the world are great in part because they are not mile after mile of urban development and nothing else. The leaders and visionaries of New York City set aside Central Park over a hundred years ago. Think what a concrete jungle that city would be without Central Park.

Think of what Barbados will be in 100 years – or 30 years – or even 10 – if everything is done for profit and nothing is done for quality of life and the future.

NEXT In This Series: How the Barbados News Media Pushes The Government’s Agenda To Develop The Graeme Hall Public Lands

Further Reading

Graeme Hall National Park Land Use Conflicts Q&A (pdf here)

Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Press Centre (link here)

land-conflict-map-graeme-hallClick on thumbnail for larger, clearer map of Graeme Hall National Park


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, Disaster, Environment, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption, Real Estate, Tourism, Wildlife

45 responses to “How The Barbados Government Is Stealing Graeme Hall National Park From Our Children – With The Help Of The News Media – Part 1

  1. Wuh?

    YOU have a gall! It is you and your Canadian financier Allard that want to dictate how land in Barbados is used. Never.

    You think we are the indigenous indians that you wiped out and sent to reservations in Canada?

  2. Chicago

    That’s right Wuh? The crooked politicians should be able to steal our land, sell it to their friends and leave us with nothing.

    Allard offered to give the sanctuary lands to the people for NOTHING if only the politicians would not sell the surrounding public lands to their friends.

    Wuh, you and your kind are the reason why we never make progress in Barbados except at great cost and three steps forward, two back. Cha!

  3. West Side Davie

    I had no idea that the “corridor” was 70% of the national park. This move by the DLP stinks.

  4. John

    … the PDP was pased by a Parliament from which the DLP had walked out!!

    There was no discussion on the flooor of the house.

  5. .34

    DLP passed the plan first thing they got power!

  6. Jason

    This new map really lays out the sad truth. All that top area will be more concrete and houses. With so many other vacant tracts of land in barbados suitable for housing the government’s decision to develop this area must be all about money.

    One thing is certain, Thompson’s decision to develop this land isn’t about the environment or quality of life or proper management of our natural habitat.

  7. David Brooks

    That land that is owned by CLICO was originally the general Worthing Shooting swamp area – several shooting ponds where there – but was filled in many years ago (sometime in the early 70’s – during a DLP spell, but I beleive it was first bought by the Goddards Group) using the dredged material from the (now) large ‘lake’ which was never as deep as it is today.

    With the correct remedial measures, it could be brought back into the marsh land (mud-flats) it used to be and become a sanctuary for migrating shorebirds, which cannot make use of the large, deep ‘lake’ that is now there.

    The area to the east which is own by Government is made up man-made vales running parallel to each other and some perpendicular – much like a maze – and this environment would lend itself (actually it does now and for many years) to migrating waterfowl, like ducks, rails, etc.

    Of course, my pet peeve is the large ‘lake’, its stock of tarpon and its outflow to the sea which should be opened back permanently. Remember it was closed around 1930 by the erection of the sluice gates.

    If allowed to flow freely the water would not become stagnant, smell so and discolour the water like it does when it is infrequently let out. This would have a tremendous effect on the marine life and bring several species back into the area, and I dare say may even encourage the flying fish to come back up this side.

  8. the lightbulb is just coming on

    David Brooks is correct

    Clicos land were filled in and could easily be returned to wetlands.

    Does anyone have any doubts why these Clico lands were excluded from the 100 year flood water test for inclusion in the Ramsar Treaty?

    Vales are great for ducks and the sorts but migratory birds love the open shallow ponds or trays where they can see and feel safe to

    The only long term vision that both governments had and have for these lands will destroy the open green space concept.

    Thompson needs to tell Barbadians and the thousands that petitioned for a National Park that the National Park (240 acres) for future generations is not on his agenda and that Clico or some other developer will be building on it.

  9. Mike Ashby

    This area should remain a ‘No-build’ area. However, the ultimate resolution and fate of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary and the broader establishment of a Graeme Hall National Park will give incite into how the Barbados government plans on dealing with future environmental concerns. Without getting into the technical importance of proper and relevant land-use planning, we will see in this age of growing environmental concerns (i. e. global climate change) what our leaders are willing to do. This will also shed some light on the offshore petroleum efforts and larger “Coastal Zone Management” efforts of our nation.

  10. RRRicky

    Wall to wall houses on the south coast and west coast doesn’t sound like a good plan, but that is what we are getting. I would love to have a chart of the public lands in Barbados and who made how much money as those lands were passed from hand to hand, company to company and politicians’ relatives to politicians’ friends.

  11. David Brooks

    Barbados joined the Ramsar Convention as its 150th Contracting Party in December 2005, so I would hazard a guess that it ‘may’ have been a matter of ignorance of the historical facts about that area that Clico owns.

    That area, as I said, was filled in back in the early 1970’s. The great Hon. Error Barrow would have known this as he used to shoot at the Graeme Hall swamp, which is were the ‘lake’ area is (as I said that was also shallow mudflat type wetland).

    The swamp hut was located approximately where reception area is at the (now) sanctuary – like where you go to look for and feed the tarpon, or maybe a little west of that position. I was a boy back then I cannot remember it that well, but I do have well preseved image in my mind of the Dipper shooting into a flock of birds, as I look from the old Worthing View Swamp hut in the 60’s.

    It could also be that the land has been like that for 35 years and legally not much can be done in trying to change it back unless the current owner is willing.

  12. David Brooks

    P.S. “The old Worthing View Swamp hut” would have been located on the said land now owned by Clico – just walk up alongside the concrete channal opposite the entrance to Big-B and turn left about 30 yerds before you get the line of mangrove trees running north-south, on the other side of which is the western part of the sanctuary.

    There were actually about 5 or 6 swamp ponds between Amity Lodge and the back of Penrith where Ernst & Young is now.

    i.e. Amity Lodge, No.3, Niva, Barlon, Worthing View, Bunions – I’m subject to be corrected and my spealing may be off. As I said, I was a young boy back in the 60’s just before the filling in was done (actually I turned 47 today – 2 more years and I can join BARP – oh, boy!!!).

  13. John


    It is great reading a contribution from a person with as intimate a knowledge of the area as you have.

    You clearly know what you are talking about.


  14. the lightbulb is just coming on

    “so I would hazard a guess that it ‘may’ have been a matter of ignorance of the historical facts about that area that Clico owns”

    There was no ignorance. The Ministry was fully aware that the Clico lands were to be included
    and came within the terms and boundaries of the Ramsars 100 year flood mark.

    This would mean that both the BLP and DLP were dancing to Clico’s tune and selling the concept of a protected green space for future generations of Baradians and their children down the toilet.

  15. David Brooks

    I would like to see these “terms and boundaries of the Ramsars 100 year flood mark”.

    Can another provide a link or point me to the source. I check the Ramsars site later when I have some time, but a short-cut would be appreciated if known.

    I think it is time I throw my full weight into this issue – I have left it to others too long thinking that their efforts would fair better – besides many think I am a lose cannon and don’t like me to get involved. And its simply because when I decide on a line and put my all into it – just call me a pitbull (bite, don’t let go) by analogy – so I’ve let others have their go but it does not seem to have worked too sucessfully.

    So a different approach seems to be needed. Even if its just to flush out the crap and let things happen as they should. I have broad shoulders.

  16. David Brooks

    Thanks, you’ve inspired me – see above.

  17. David Brooks

    Actually I’m thinking that the piece of land that is owned by Clico could be bought by Government for annexing to the Graeme Hall Sanctuary for, say, $10 million.

    What say you?

  18. David Brooks


    I’m going to try and re-contruct, by drawing, the layout of these former swamp ponds mentioned above. I will have to use my memory and thankfully my father is still alive who knows up in there from back in 1940’s (maybe late 30’s).

    This is something that we need to do. Tap into the knowledge of our older folks about this sort of thing, because when they are gone that knowledge goes with them.

    Some people like to only look at the present and the future, but if you don’t know where you came from how will you know where you are going.

  19. David Brooks

    Another point comes to mind as I’ve been giving this some good thought now – forgive the multiple posts – but that area in question is actually sinking back to its former state.

    Up to a few years ago, I lived in Amity Lodge (South) – used to see Harry R. pass behind my backyard occassionaly when on his rounds – so being that close there were a few times that I braved the bushes and tried to re-trace the area where the old swamps used to be.

    I do recall being able, in some cases, to clearly make out where the ponds were because the old banks have not sunk but the filled-in ponds have. Just a few inches in places.

    My point here that if Clico wants to develop this area it is my feeling that they will end up spending more money on foundation, maybe pile driving, etc.

    In fact, not only would a comprehensive environmental impact study be advisable but an engineering one too or else we would not have cave-in’s but slowly sinking foundations, like what happened along River Road.

    I recall hearing that it was the original plan to fill in as much of that area as possible back in the 70’s but after dredging and dredging and dredging, which is now the ‘lake’, they stopped because it seemed to have no bottom.


    was the PM asked about the Nature Sanctuary and the idea of a National Park, when he was on TV the other night? I was away and could not listen in. Thanks

  21. Nostradamus


    Yes a question was asked about The Sanctuary. See link below for a report from the PM’s “live presentation”


    BFP says,

    Frankly, we don’t give a damn what Thompson said about anything. We only pay attention to what he does or doesn’t do. History has taught us that his words are smoke on a windy day.

  22. the lightbulb is just coming on

    David Brooks,

    I just perused through the extensive list of documents on the Graeme Hall site

    I noticed that there was a brief historical summary in section 3 of the ARA study for which the the citizens of Barbados paid out over $800,000.00 US. You might find it interesting.

    Also, I am told Jeffery Skeete who was instrumental in advising Graeme Hall on the reproduction of old shooting huts and tray for Sanctuary did a wonderful paper on the old shooting huts and maybe he could be persuaded to have it uploaded to the site for all to see.

  23. Pat

    Happy birthday fellow Pisces.

    Hope you had a good one. I’ll drink a scotch for you, he he he!

  24. David,

    Many big mistakes have been made in the US where “improvements” have had to be undone, like the Kissimmee canal. Eyewitness accounts are always useful in reconstruction.

    You should make a rough sketch of the historical Graeme Hall wetlands area, with all the notes you can add. Future generations will want this information.

  25. David Brooks

    Although I have great respect for Jeffrey Skeet in general and I know he has done some great work on the swamp shooting history in Barbados, I however am not impressed with reproduction of the old shooting hut and tray for the Sanctuary.

    That said, I would say that he or they did as good a job as could be done with the restricted area available, but that area is all ‘make believe’ or at the very least a miniaturisation of what was, considering the constraints of space.

    Jeffrey Skeet would probably have a better angle on the Graeme Hall Shooting swamp than I or my father had, as it was a premier shooting swamp and quite outside of my Dad’s pocket although I know he would visited but not when I was around and probably before my time – I have no memories of Graeme Shooting Swamp other than what I saw from a couple hundreds yards away in Worthing View Swamp as a child. Outside of that, it was what would have been told to me.

    However, I do recall the Worthing View Swamp area – called the Lower Swamps – (west of Graeme Hall Swamp) reasonably well but obviously not as well as my Dad.

    In fact, he is probably only one of the ‘adults’ still alive from back then – his brother (my Uncle) Basil, my Godfather David Yearwood (in the early days), Billy Watson (the owner back then – who live in Dover, not the Billy Watson from up by the Crane), George Bagot, Shirley Smith, Harold Thomas, Roddie Bynoe and many others.

    I will endeavour to get more detailed information from my Dad on the ‘Lower Swamps’ which is where Clico now owns, in addition to what I know.

  26. David Brooks

    Future generations will only ‘want’ this information if we teach them about it and the VALUE of it, unfortunately some may use to their advantage or the disadvantage of others – dollar wise.

    We elect people to represent us in Government but they cannot please all of us, even the ones who elected them – besides the Civil/Public Service got everything tied up, including the politicians you know whats – so maybe Local Government is the way to go, but elected – not appointed which is what is happening here.

    Notwithstanding all of this, in these situations we still have to come out in our numbers to show our desires before the elected change their collective minds.

  27. David Brooks

    The Government will wait and come in at the last minute to help so that they can get the MOST political milage out of it.

    But I still say, the Clico area could sell for $10 million, but with a provisio to put it back to it former state.

  28. David Brooks

    … but you celebrated when he won the elections …

    and he didn’t do this and that, etc.

    … and I told you so.

    Anyway, I think you have matured now – hopefully.

  29. David Brooks

    “I noticed that there was a brief historical summary in section 3 of the ARA study”

    Please elucidate, ARA what is that? Since you’ve perused through the extensive list of documents, then please direct us to the exact spot. While I don’t mind looking through the general site, I ain’t got that much time to search for this but I would like to see it and I suppose others here would too.

    Yes, I’m sometimes ignorant of some of these Acronyms and that is why I tend to spell them out initial, when I start a subject/thread, and put the acronym in brackets so that can use it subsequently.

  30. David Brooks


    Is it possible that I could get a better image of the one at the top of this thread without the comments, but with the outlines of the various sections. Better yet, where can a better resolution image of the area be found.

    Can anyone help here?

  31. David Brooks

    P.S. Does anyone remember that they wanted to build a new horse racing track on the Graeme Hall Agricultural land area, which is the same place where the proposed water park was to be.

  32. J

    Dear BFP you wrote “Think of what Barbados will be in 100 years – or 30 years – or even 10 – if everything is done for profit and nothing is done for quality of life and the future.”

    But BFP since 1627 almost everything in Barbados has been about profit and not quality of life.

    For example do you think that the people who imported 100,000 motor vehicles into Barbados care about quality of life?

    The only thing that has changed is the colour of SOME of the people making the profit.

  33. John


    You know you are right.

    Since 1627, or was it 1626, everything has been done for profit.

    The “forests” were cleared for agriculture in which profit was to be found.

    Yes, this was large scale environmental destruction.

    A “new environment” was created, and it provided profit for generations.

    It supported the island for upwards of 300 years.

    This new environment is being replaced by a “newer environment” much of which is concrete.

    There is even more profit in it.

    I often ask myself when I think of the problems we face with water, with sewage, with building etc. etc. how much longer can it go on for?

    The Tourist Industry has evolved over the past 50 years and replaced agriculture as the premier revenue earning sector.

    … and yet we hear of the near shore environment being polluted, dead reefs etc. etc. etc.

    Is the “newer” environment a sustainable one?

    What will our country be like in 10 years?

    How much longer will the profits continue?

    Will we make our country into one more example of the goose that laid the golden egg?

    Is one golden egg a day/year/generation enough or do we need to kill the goose?

  34. Checked

    Go to Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary website, press section. It is all there.

  35. Mike Ashby


    You are right about the race track. If I’m not mistaken, it was soon after GH plantation stop producing sugar cane for harvest and the track would have been located closer to the Top Rock end.

    To J and John

    I did not get your point. We have a finite area (431 sq km) to use for a livelihood. Are you guys saying that we can generate infinite development and profits for ever more? If so, what was the population demand on the natural environment during the time you’re referencing?

  36. John


    Not at all.

    Barbados is the Goose.

    The Golden Egg for 300 plus years was the Sugar Crop.

    The goose produced it once per year.

    Tourism and Development found a way to get the goose to lay a couple more eggs in a year.

    Then people saw the goose could lay not one golden egg per year, but more and they got greedy.

    ……. now, the question is how close to death is the goose and how many more golden eggs can we get out of it?

    It should really be how do we feed the goose, keep it nurtured and healthy and producing at its optimum in a sustainable manner?

    Obviously the people who got the goose to produce for 300 plus years, 10 generations, year in year out knew a thing or too.

    Now the goose is looking decidedly unhealthy, …. and in less than 2 generations!!

    …. how much longer can it go on for ….. before our goose is cooked?

  37. John

    I heard in the 5:00 o’clock news what sounded like the board of the Sanitation Service Authority said that technology could not be depended on to stabilise Greenland and they would be looking elsewhere.

    Also heard that the board had resigned although it sounded like ever since.

    Listened on CBC to see if I could get the story clear.

    Anybody heard anything?

  38. When I read “largest inland lake” (sic), I know whose voice is speaking. When I read that GHS has “the most concentrated biodiversity in Barbados” it is the voice of misinformation again…
    Wayne “doc” Burke

  39. Mike Ashby

    You are so right, funny thing is, it was like a 300 year rental. Do you know why anything you rent today you have to sign liability clauses? Because people tend not to attach value to things they do not own. We own this goose and we have to attach value to it. Hopefully, we will see that in the value of things a live tree values more than a concrete hut. How much time we have left is directly related to how we make decisions in these situations.

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  41. Sunny Arizona

    Ok I see what is happening. (& I thought our politicians were thieves. Yours are worse!)

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  44. Pieter Pieper

    David Brooks

    You are now 50 years old.Noted you “can’t wait to join BARP” ! Be careful ! It may be like taking out insurance with CLICO .Some of my friends have taken out health insurance through them and they wait for years to get a response when it comes to getting their claim paid.