The theft of two Barbados National Parks by friends of government.

Barbados National Trust President Dr. Karl Watson seeks government promise to comfort him.

Publicly surrenders to lying politicians and their developer friends.

Dr. Karl Watson, the President of the Barbados National Trust, was in the paper recently saying he “eagerly awaited the day when the formal Cabinet decision to legally establish the National Park of Barbados would become reality.”

He urged the government to withstand pressure from “real estate barons” and to save the Scotland District from the urban sprawl creeping across Barbados. He wanted a “guarantee” from politicians that we will have some green space left.

But then in the next breath, Dr. Watson predicted that stopping the urbanisation of the island is a lost cause. I had to read his quotes three times to convince myself that he said it, but it’s there. Unless we hear that he was somehow grossly misquoted, the Doctor surrendered.

What Dr. Watson must realize and didn’t want to say, is that the “real estate barons” and those in government who control the land use are as one.

This island’s two promised National Parks and other green space may be doomed, but it is not because those in government cannot “withstand the pressure” from the real estate barons. Our green space is doomed because our political elites ARE the “real estate barons” who directly and indirectly profit from land speculation and development.

Barbadians were “guaranteed” two National Parks – at Scotland District and at Graeme Hall – but we were lied to.

“I think that even with the best will in the world and with the imposition of controls and with the full authority that Town and Country Planning has, I think that the economic aspect of development and the economic drivers of development are so gargantuan, so all-consuming, overpowering, that they are going to break down any hurdle that we put in their way to act as a brake on this runaway development.”

…Dr. Karl Watson, President of the Barbados National Trust, publicly surrenders as quoted in The Nation.

All we can hope for, says Dr. Watson, is that the government will provide a “guarantee” that there will be some green space left.

“… We need some guarantee that at some point in time in the next 15 or 20 years there will be some green spaces left in this island that we can go out and enjoy. It has to be done.”

Dr. Watson knows that Bajans were given guarantees about green space in the past – lot’s of worthless guarantees. What is that old saying about a promise being a comfort?

Kiss your Graeme Hall National Park goodbye. "Protected" area in red is now approved for development by friends of Government.

“Guaranteed” National Park at Graeme Hall – Gone!

Back in 1981, the Government stated that a new park would be created at Graeme Hall. The Physical Development Plan of 1983, the amended plan in 1986 and the 1988 National Physical Development Plan of Barbados showed a National Park at Graeme Hall – because our leadership during the 1980’s recognized that if these lands were not set aside and preserved from development, the entire South Coast would soon be wall to wall concrete.

The move by government and its friends to convert the Graeme Hall parklands began after the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary was restored by Peter Allard in the 1990′s. Allard, a retired Canadian attorney and investor, purchased the Sanctuary lands after due diligence examination showed that the 1988 PDP designated the approximately 240-acre green space at Graeme Hall as an environmental, recreational and agricultural buffer for the wetland, and as a green corridor between Oistins and Greater Bridgetown urban areas.

But after Allard invested some US$35 million into restoring the Graeme Hall wetlands (and making it attractive), the government and their friends decided that there was money to be made by selling off the public wetlands buffer for development. Of course, the government would sell off the public lands to “friends” (like CLICO).

Despite a petition signed by 6,000 Barbadians to preserve the 240-acre Graeme Hall area as a National Park, in 2008 the newly elected Thompson DLP government removed those guarantees as one of their first acts… to allow development of the previously “guaranteed” green space and Graeme Hall National Park.

The Graeme Hall National Park was dead.

“Guaranteed” National Park at Scotland – It doesn’t exist!

For over forty years various Barbados governments said “yes” to a National Park in the Scotland District. To be more precise, the politicians said “yes” when an election was imminent or when there was international money available if the words “sustainable”, “green” and “environment” were thrown about like they meant it.

The reality: other than a few policy statements, delivered enthusiastically but with minimal detail, the politicians never passed legislation that clearly defines the boundaries of Scotland National Park and precludes development in the future.

You see, government officials know that they, their friends and close family members are free to profit from the sale of government lands and they don’t want to limit this activity as the legal declaration of the Scotland National Park will do.

Remember, this is Barbados where it is not unknown for senior public servants or their spouses or close family members to own a land development company!

In the case of a written Development Plan, well… BLP and DLP governments have shown that the plan can always be modified once some sucker foreigner invests based upon the existing Development Plan.

What a scam!

Now let’s look at the Thompson government’s WRITTEN promise about the development of agricultural land…

“Guaranteed” 2/3 of Parliament needed to switch agricultural land for development – Gone!

The DLP promised in writing in their “Pathways to Progress” policy booklet that they would require a 2/3 free vote in Parliament to change agricultural land to allow development.

That’s the promise that Thompson and the DLP put in writing and it’s a promise that they broke with their first piece of legislation that killed the Graeme Hall National Park, and since then in many other cases.

Ha! What suckers we were to believe David Thompson and the DLP about “guaranteed” green space.

Comfort from Government promises

Dr. Watson can ask for and receive all the “guarantees” he wants. If a promise is a comfort to Dr. Watson, well, that’s his business. The rest of us learned long ago that written or verbal government promises without actual legislation aren’t worth spit on the ground.

Scotland National Park?

It never was, and it never will be, under a DLP or BLP government.

Further Reading

Nation News: Watson – Save Scotland District

BFP, January 14, 2010: Barbados Government takes new steps to destroy foreigner’s US$35 million eco-tourism investment on South Coast – Part 1 in a series

BFP, March 20, 2010: Barbados Citizens taking action against development-at-any-cost business and political elites


Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Environment, Offshore Investments, Politics, Wildlife

18 responses to “The theft of two Barbados National Parks by friends of government.

  1. West Side Davie

    “Scotland National Park? It never was, and it never will be, under a DLP or BLP government.”

    Unfortunately a true statement by BFP.

  2. apathy and green viagara

    This is really quite sad!

    Dr Watson needs to take his head out of an archaeological hole along with all the so called sincere and helpless environmentalists and start their own green party.

  3. 28

    Barbados is destined ultimately to be much like Manhattan
    -but without Central Park.

    Get used to the idea.
    Coast-to-coast concrete and development!

    Parks are such a “white” notion.
    Who needs Parks?? Come on..

  4. Editor

    @ apathy and green viagara — right on — with Mia at the helm…..

  5. whistling frog

    Dear Apathy&Green Viagra,,,,,
    I tend to to agree with you on this except for the part where you suggested that Dr.Watson should take his head out of the hole etc,,.
    Someone has to have a hopeful,positive view on this even in the light of “We were Helpless,Helpless,Helpless,Helpless”,,,,,,,,(Neil Young) and Dr.Watson is one of the few who have any TRUE feeling about this island called BARBADOS.

  6. BFP

    Dr. Watson’s answer to rape is to lie back and think pleasant thoughts.


  7. bp

    Take a look at Barbados on Google Earth, enable “national parks” and see what is outlined. Couple of golf courses but almost the entire central spine from Mt. Wilton to Boscobelle is outlined as park.

  8. David G. Brooks

    Just pause and think for a minute …

    Graeme Hall Swamp and who owns all the land to west of it that could be brought ‘back’ into the swamp making good shallow water for other migrating species, etc. – CLICO.

    Who owns Sam Lords – CLICO.

    Who came in and bought the failing Foundry Group of Companies and then the failing Plantations Group of Companies – shareholders still got their share certificates, including “Preference Shares” and not one red cent paid to them – and what have they done with all the various properties owned by said companies, etc. – CLICO.

    Need I go on?

  9. Prince of Barbados/Bajan Prince

    In order to ensure the preservation of the natural beauty of Barbados, an extensive national park system must be put into place! Without the appropriate pieces of environmental legislation, all ah wunna pun dah island gin wash way. It is quite clear that many if not all Barbadians, especially those endowed with immense authority(government), are oblivious to the series of roles and contributions which the environment is solely responsible for. The environment protects the island from the ever increasing global warming threat to which it is very vulnerable. The environment provides the aesthetic appeal of the country and gives Barbados its own unique character, the environment ensures that the island will not whither away and provides your children, your relatives , your colleagues, and your fellow Barbadians with places of great solitude and immense recreation. To put it quite simply, the protection and preservation of Barbados is imperative!

    Save MY Paradise!

    Love Barbados or Leave Her!

    Tell de guvment tuh protect we island!


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  18. white flag of surrender versus green flag of responsibility and obligation

    There is something terrifying and contradictory in the use of the words Trust ( BNT ) and surrender in the same story.

    This could only emanate from a bottomless pit of masochism.

    Where were the 6,000 First National Park petitioners and thousands of other Barbadians when the buffer zone lost its green status to the DLP/CLICO rezone? Did they lose steam after the BLP water park fight?

    There is no good or proper time to start a new Green Party.

    Just start!