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 .”

“We have personal knowledge that Minister Lowe cares deeply about the future of Graeme Hall and the people of Barbados .  Minister Lowe knows that we are available at any time, and we agree with him that talking together in good faith about a way forward would be welcome.”

As to government’s claim that the final say in the reopening of the facility would be completely up to the owner of the Sanctuary: “We believe that conclusion is not accurate,” said Heaslet.  “The Sanctuary investment and survival depends unconditionally on a healthy ecosystem.   A healthy ecosystem is impossible under the current circumstances that are controlled by Government.”

“Because of the government-run sluice gate being in total disrepair for years, the ecosystem is dying.  And because of government policy to dump sewage and allow continuous pollution to run into the wetland, the ecosystem is dying.  And now all environmental buffers and adjoining parklands have been rezoned for urban development in the new Physical Development Plan.  Both Government and the Sanctuary are stakeholders, it’s not just up to the Sanctuary to preserve the ecosystem and parklands at Graeme Hall.”

Heaslet disagreed with Minister Lowe’s claim that Government offered a million dollars to the Sanctuary to save jobs.

“No offer or proposal detailing terms and conditions of such an offer ever came to the Sanctuary from Government. Long after the Sanctuary closed and employees were laid off we did read a press article about a million dollar budget for Graeme Hall, but nobody from Government ever talked to us about what it was for or how it would work.”

Heaslet confirmed that nearly 6 months have gone by without Government acknowledgement of a Treaty dispute filed by owner Peter Allard under the Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments between Canada and Barbados .  The dispute alleges that the Government of Barbados has violated its international obligations by refusing to enforce its environmental laws, thereby allowing increased pollution and land development to damage the Sanctuary.  (www.graemehall.com/legal/papers/BIT-Complaint.pdf)

“Our message to Government is that we will meet with them when they are ready,” said Heaslet.

Since 1994 the owner of the Sanctuary has invested more than US $35 million in the 35-acre Sanctuary to preserve the last significant mangrove woodland and wetland on the island.

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6 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Environment, Offshore Investments

6 responses to “Barbados Advocate accurately reports Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary press release!

  1. Green Monkey

    “….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.”

    Let’s hope that after this article appeared some poor ex-Junior Editor ain’t out pounding the pavement this morning.looking for a new job

  2. Marge

    It’s utterly ridiculous to see the spin on reality by the Nation on today’s back page (Feb 16th). When has the Sanctuary or its owner ever asked government for a single dime? It appears the Nation would like us to believe that the reason the Sanctuary is closed is because they are in dire financial straits and looking for a hand-out. This is a total obliteration of the truth to conceal the real issues!

  3. BFP

    Hey Marge, Isn’t that Nation something?

    They know what the truth is and they know the issues, but they have deliberately lied to their readers that it’s about money. Peter Allard gives away tens of millions of dollars in good works all around the world but he stopped supporting Graeme Hall’s operation when it became clear the the Government was trying to kill the sanctuary so they and their developer friends could make some big money by rezoning the watershed for development.

    I don’t know how Barry Alleyne can look anyone in the face after writing such lies.

    Here’s the article for comparison with the Barbados Advocate:

    RESERVE IN DARK

    Published on: 2/16/2010.

    by BARRY ALLEYNE

    CASH-STRAPPED, half-shut, half-open, and waiting for a miracle or a godfather with deep pockets, Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary is hoping Government can ride to the rescue.
    Only problem is, Government has yet to respond to several pleas to keep this island’s last wetlands on the ecological map, owner Peter Allard claimed yesterday.

    “Everyone is on the same page here. We want the sanctuary to survive, but we want to hear something positive, and there hasn’t been any dialogue,” Stuart Heaslet, Allard’s spokesman for the sanctuary, told the DAILY NATION yesterday by cellphone link-up from the Mojave Desert in southeastern California, United States.

    Heaslet said the sanctuary was in its worst state of the past 15 years, and may be on the verge of disappearing.

    “The condition of the wetland is bad. It is suffering, and the water levels are at their lowest,” he said.

    “We are very afraid of what could happen, and that’s why we want to hear from Government, to hear exactly what plans they have on the cards.

    “Everything that is happening to the sanctuary is beyond our control environmentally. What is happening outside is affecting the sanctuary on the inside.”

    Heaslet revealed that the Barbados National Trust had shown an interest in saving the facility, and wrote to Allard last year saying it would be interested in leasing the facility at $1 a year, and

    Allard had responded by letter, but that also remained in limbo.

    The sanctuary, because of its financial position, remains half-open, catering only to special events.

    “We can’t do anything else, since if we want to open on a daily basis, it would take a lot more money as it relates to hiring staff,” Heaslet said.

    “Except for an introductory meeting in January last year with [Minister of the Environment] Dr Denis Lowe, no one from Government has called back and agreed to substantive meetings.

    “Whatever they have planned, we don’t know. The last time we heard from them was last year.

    He, however, acknowledged: “We have personal knowledge that the minister cares deeply about the future of Graeme Hall and the people of Barbados.”

    A notice of dispute was forwarded to Government five months ago by Allard, contending that it had violated its international obligations by refusing to enforce its environmental laws.
    Allard said Government’s non-action had severely damaged the natural ecosystem relied on to attract visitors to the facility.

    Efforts to reach the minister yesterday were unsuccessful.

  4. BLP spokesman

    Not only did Barry Alleyne choose to falsely state the facts, he failed to mention that his party promoted the rezoning of the upper lands to take this precious green
    space away from future generations of Barbadians.

    Disgraceful!

  5. Pingback: Dozens of contractors hired in Barbados Flood Prevention & Drainage plan – but the Graeme Hall wetlands sluice gate is still broken! « Barbados Free Press

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