Tag Archives: Ramsar Treaty

Environmental Protection Department’s 40th Anniversary Sham

Environmental Tour to avoid Graeme Hall sluice gate (above photo), West Coast beach disaster, Mount Stinkeroo

Don’t ask why Barbados lacks environmental protection legislation or off the bus you go!

Barbados is celebrating 40 years of no environmental protection legislation with a carefully staged bus tour this Saturday. A press release from the BGIS says,

EPD rides to visit wetlands, mangroves

A glimpse into the wetlands and mangroves of Barbados will be given when the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) hosts a bus tour as part of its 40th Anniversary Celebrations.

The free tour, which also falls during Environment Month, will be held on Saturday, June 18.  It will offer the public the opportunity to see some of the island’s greener locales and ecosystems first hand, while learning more about what and where they are and how they develop.

It all sounds so environmentally positive, doesn’t it? Just the use of the words “mangroves”, “wetlands” and “ecosystems” has me seeing green and feeling good about our island home. That is, if I ignore the abandoned refrigerators just west of Grape Hall, forget about the Shell jet fuel in the south coast water wells and don’t look at the the green/brown effluent at Bathsheba that flows into the sea.

In one sense, we can’t blame the Environmental Protection Department workers for wanting to celebrate the very existence and survival of their abused and underfunded department. It’s not their fault that for over 40 years successive governments deliberately failed to pass Environmental Protection Legislation or give the EDP proper tools to do the job.

Both the DLP and the BLP preferred to take cash political donations from the corporate polluters instead of putting Barbados first.

Polluters don’t like environmental laws, so our politicians took their money and delivered what they were supposed to: no environmental legislation, protection of corporate polluters, and profits to the auto dealers and road construction companies.

So now we have a legacy of 40 years of no environmental laws, wholesale rape and development of the last remaining wetlands, and a transportation policy that involves ever more roads and ever more vehicles. The construction, auto industries and politicians make the money, while our island is paved over bit by bit. Sounds about right if you have an offshore account in Switzerland or Miami.

“We” borrowed tens of millions for a West Coast sewer project – then spent the money on something else (probably more roads for more cars) and left the sewerage flowing into the water table, the RAMSAR wetlands and the sea.

The politicians and their developer friends are deliberately killing the last remaining mangrove forest at Graeme Hall – and God forbid that Barbados should ever have modern garbage disposal / power creation facilities as do some modern small island nations. Oh no! We’d rather just pile the stuff higher and higher and let the poisons leach into the water and sea – that is when it doesn’t touch off itself and burn for a few months or a year. It’s not called Mount Stinkeroo for nothing, ya know!

So enjoy the bus trip folks, but when you get to the wetlands, ask the tour guide why successive governments have refused to repair the RAMSAR Wetlands sluice gate for 15 years. When you drive by the West Coast, ask why the government approved the groynes that destroyed the beaches. Ask how much money the DLP and BLP received from Shell Oil and the Simpsons of auto-dealer fame. Ask why Barbados has no Environmental Protection Act.

Don’t let the “celebration” go to waste. Demand answers and make some noise.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, Environment, Nature, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption, Wildlife

Natural Heritage Barbados Says Environment Is A Top Priority – Just Don’t Look Too Closely At What The Government Is Really Doing…

Click to read the deceptive Barbados Natural Heritage Advert

Click to read the deceptive Barbados Natural Heritage Advert

Fine Words Hide Destructive Actions Taken By Government

As the last mangrove swamp on the island (Graeme Hall) suffocates to death because the Barbados government refuses to maintain the sea gate, the Natural Heritage Department published a full page advert in Friday’s Barbados Advocate to tell the people that the government is taking excellent care of the “biosphere” and “ecosystem”.

Yes, the full colour layout just gushes with “green” terminology that the politicians and bureaucrats picked up on their latest junket high-level climate-change conference across the pond in Norway. We do words and promises very well in Barbados and this advert doesn’t fall short on either. Why, better than half the words in each sentence can be found in the “cool environmental phrases” handbook. Lookie here at this dandy…

“The Natural Heritage Department will spearhead the legislative, regulatory and institutional framework for sustainable management of all protected areas in Barbados, including the proposed Barbados National Park.”

We’ve read all the words on the page but we’re still trying to find where it describes what the Thompson DLP government has ACTUALLY DONE or ACCOMPLISHED in relation to the environment and related legislation. You know – a REAL ACTION that produced an ACTUAL OUTCOME or a MEASURABLE POSITIVE RESULT.

What we did find in the advert was yet another promise that environmental legislation is being… spearheaded.

Yes sir… we’re all going to have environmental legislation ’bout hey someday. We know that because they – both BLP and DLP – keep promising it to us. I believe the first promised date for environmental legislation was 1972 and last promised date for its introduction was this past April, but as with the Freedom of Information and Integrity Legislation, promises are easy – it is real action that is difficult. In Barbados mostly we get the promises but the action just doesn’t happen.

Do you know that in the fifteen years since the first big Shell pipeline jetfuel spill on the south coast, no Barbados government passed a law requiring pipeline and gas tank owners to check for leakage each day, keep records and report spills? Isn’t that incredible?

Do you know that there are absolutely no environmental standards and laws in Barbados regulating the use, handling, storage and disposal of toxic chemicals? Isn’t that incredible?

But at least now we know that the promised environmental, sustainable, green, ecosystem, biosphere legislation is being spearheaded. Whew! That’s great, ’cause for a minute there I thought that no real action was taking place.

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

Parks, Promises And Reality

The Natural Heritage advertisement is extremely deceptive when it comes to the Graeme Hall Mangrove Swamp and RAMSAR wetlands. Consider the DLP government’s actions since their election…

Almost immediately after being elected in 2008, the Thompson DLP government changed the law to allow commercial development and building upon the Graeme Hall watershed — an area that had been protected in law for almost three decades.

This was done so Prime Minister Thompson’s developer friends could profit from the sale of government lands at Graeme Hall and their own lands that border the nature sanctuary. As an example, the adjoining land immediately to the west of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary is owned by (surprise, surprise) CLICO!

Now let us consider the fact that both the Owen Arthur and David Thompson governments have for a decade deliberately neglected to repair the sea gate at Graham Hall. As a result, the last mangrove forest on the island (a RAMSAR site) is slowly being poisoned as it is denied the natural ebb and flow of sea water into the mangroves. The government’s intent, of course, is to destroy the wetlands while avoiding the responsibility for doing so. When it is all done the swamp will be dead and the condo highrises will sprout in an area that should have been declared a national park. And the last major greenspace between the airport and the city will be more houses and commercial developments.

My friends, please take the time to sit back and read the Natural Heritage advertisement (above) that appeared in the Barbados Advocate and really think about the disconnect between what the words say, and the reality of the government’s actions and inaction.

Then answer this question for yourself: What do you intend to do to save the last mangrove forest in Barbados from a government that is so intent on profiting from our children’s future?

Further Reading

How The Barbados Government Is Stealing Graeme Hall National Park From Our Children

Graeme Hall National Park website

Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary website

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

barbados-map-graeme-hall

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

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