World Environment Day

By Joseph Antoine

Friends of the Earth – Grenada was established twenty five years ago for the purpose of protection of the environment. We at FOE – G have been at the forefront of lobbying for the protection, conservation and sustainability of the environment for 25 years.

We are committed to continue for the foreseeable future and in the context of 2016, we want to highlight some of the issues that are of concern to us in the present moment.

As we have indicated in our manifesto, we believe that the people of the planet are the stewards of the environment and we are all charged with protecting the legacy for our children and subsequent generations.

The issues FOE-G wish to highlight at this juncture are:

1.      Sand mining.

This seems to be continuing unabated despite the fact that there are laws which clearly state that it is illegal.  A recent meeting in Tivoli stressed the fact that unlawful sand mining was continuing in areas of the East Coast while the beach at Mt Craven/Mt Rodney also continues to be pillaged by contractors and the public in 2’s and 3’s who maintain that they have been given permission by the Ministry of Works or the Royal Grenada Police Force to remove sand from the beach.

We are seeing the beaches being eroded by the forces of nature, aided and abetted by climate change and yet we continue these irresponsible practices.

A report in the Washington Post this week highlights the fact that several of the islands in the Caribbean are in serious danger due to changes in weather patterns and by 2023 some of the Capital cities will be underwater, St George’s and Kingston, Jamaica being just two of them. This is not withstanding that some areas of Grenada are already being claimed back by the sea.

2. Camerhogne Park

We continue to support the campaign against the development of Camerhogne Park, in the same way as we supported the campaigns in Mt Hartman and Levera against onslaughts in the past.

Once again we wish to refer to a document prepared by Consultants at the end of the last century, which indicated then that Grand Anse Beach had reached its maximum capacity for hosting hotels, restaurants and other facilities for holiday makers.

We continue to uphold the rights of the Grenadian population to keep their access to public spaces particularly areas of natural beauty and those related to livelihoods.

What will it take for us to cease from such destructive enterprises

i.e. the one being constructed in the area we call Silver Sands; why are we not learning from the lessons offered by experiences in other parts of the world?  An example of which is that in some parts of Nigeria, the farmers can no longer farm their lands as they have been poisoned by the petrochemical industries.
Another example is that damage to the mangroves in areas such as Mt Hartman and its surroundings affects the fish population as major spawning areas for fish, which populate the southern Windward Islands providing food, livelihoods and recreation, are located in the mangroves of Grenada and its sister isles.

3.      Grand Etang National Park

We are continuing to hear about the impending development of Grand Etang National Park. We opposed the sale/commercialisation of Grand Etang when it was attempted at the turn of the century and we want to repeat our opposition and reiterate statements we made during 2007 when the governance of protected areas came under attack.

Grand Etang National Park is not only one of our major assets for the tourist industry, it is also a major source for our watersheds which supply our own people.  If we embark on the destruction of Grand
Etang, we destroy our own heritage/patrimony; we destroy the very reason many visitors continue to come to Grenada – because of its natural beauty; we destroy one of the sources we need to keep us alive, i.e. water and we destroy a source of spiritual upliftment.

We need to focus on sustainability when we think about development, a holistic view has to be taken particularly as we are promoting ourselves as ‘Pure Grenada’ in the International arena.

We implore anyone who shares our passion for protection and defence of our eco-systems on behalf of ourselves and future generations to become active, fearless and responsible stewards.

Let us use this World Environment Day 2016 for some soul searching and to make a commitment to protecting our planet, our home.

(Joseph Antoine is President of Friends of the Earth – Grenada)

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