“Wetlands” a banned topic in Barbados Media & Politics
Our newspapers, television and radio media are never lacking in articles and reminders about the importance of our natural environment. If there’s not a story in the Nation about cleaning up the gullies, there will be a piece in the Barbados Advocate about the bleaching of coral due to the rise in ocean temperatures. If the CBC isn’t running something about a planting day for some school, then Brass Tacks will be talking about keeping the beaches clean and accessible.
Check out the coverage of the third annual Arbor Expo this past weekend. It was by all accounts a smashing success at demonstrating the importance of trees and vegetation to Bajans. Trees control soil erosion, cool the environment, purify water, reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, replenish oxygen and sustain myriads of different species as shelter, food and protection. Not to forget their beauty and contribution to our social lives and the economy.
Bajans again were given the clear message – Take away the trees and vegetation and see how long the soil and the tourists last! But not a word about wetlands.
Politicians talk about every environmental concern: except one
Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe is a frequent commentator in the media. I saw him on CBC not too long ago talking about the importance of vegetation and trees in reducing flooding and maintaining healthy soils. (As further evidence of Dr. Lowe’s concern for the environment, we can also mention that he is frequently seen checking out the beach wildlife at the Hilton right after the luncheon buffet.)
Prime Minister Thompson recently spoke in New York City on the potential for Global Warming to devastate coastal areas, and how small island states like Barbados lack the higher elevation land areas and financial resources to effectively deal with the threat.
My friends, there is no doubt that our Barbados government and news media are paying more attention to environmental concerns and the protection of our natural environment than we have previously seen in the 25 years since I personally started paying attention to these issues.
There’s just one thing lacking though…
The Government and News Media never talk about the importance of Coastal Wetlands, Swamps or Mangrove Forests
Now that I’ve mentioned it, think about it. When was the last time you saw an news article on Wetlands, Swamps or Mangrove Forests? With the exception of some “Letters to the Editor”, when was the last time you saw some detailed investigative journalism about the DLP government’s changing the law to allow development on previously-protected greenspace at Graeme Hall? When was the last time you heard a politician of any party talking about the importance of coastal wetlands or their preservation?
Go ahead – try Google. Try the archives at The Nation. Look through the Barbados Advocate old issues.
Except for a single self-serving statement last January (forced by the closing of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary) Minister of the Environment Denis Lowe is coming up on two years since he last uttered the words “Graeme Hall” or “wetlands” or “mangroves” or “nature sanctuary” in public.
Denis Lowe, David Thompson Serving Land Developers & Friends: Not the people of Barbados
As an Opposition Senator back in February of 2006, Denis Lowe called for the strict limitation of development anywhere near the Graeme Hall wetlands. Lowe dropped that line when it became obvious his DLP was going to win the election. He then voted to change the law and allow commercial development on previously-protected Graeme Hall greenspace.
I guess that Prime Minister Thompson had a word with Dr. Lowe about CLICO’s land holdings at Graeme Hall and how the PM’s good friend Leroy Parris wanted to make some money from the greenspace.
And that is how we come to this, old friends. In the Barbados government and news media, “wetlands” and “Graeme Hall” are banned words. Discussing how the DLP changed the law to permit commercial development of previously-protected greenspace is a banned topic.
Here’s the visual proof: a map of the changes (click map to enlarge). Ask yourself why you haven’t seen a story on it in the Barbados news media…