Are Grenada’s Grand Etang Forest Reserve Lands Still Protected?

by Gerry Hopkin

Brooklyn, New Yoek – Responding to word on the streets of the tri-island state of Grenada that the New National Party (NNP) Administration, is allegedly about to dispose of lands in the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, the leader of the other main party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Sen. Nazim Burke, held a press conference in St. George’s last week, in which he expressed “disgust” and disagreement over the alleged action by the Government.

This comes, amidst widespread calls for the said Administration to abandon plans to sell or lease Camerhogne Park to an investor who intends to build another beachfront hotel in an area that is already over-burdened with establishments which pollute beaches and harm the ecology of the marine environment (reefs, etc.) and the cleanliness of the water in the affected area.

On Wednesday, May 4th, when asked in a national radio show, GBN’s “To the Point,” whether there is any truth to the allegation that 33 acres of land in the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, will be disposed of (sold, leased or given-away), Minister for Implementation in Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique, Alexandra Otway-Noel, essentially said as follows: “Certain parts of Grand Etang have been put aside for development purposes.”

Burke pointed out that this is apparently the case, despite the law of the land passed in 1906, which requires that the lands of the Grand  Etang Forest Reserve, “be strictly preserved and put aside… forever.”

Further, this law was reinforced in 1949 by the Forest, Soil & Water Conservation Act, which was amended in 1967 and 1984, Burke also outlined.

Section 6 of the 1949 Act provides that “No land shall be granted, devised or sold within a forest reserve,” the NDC leader emphasised.

Relatedly, is noteworthy that Camerhogne Park is Grenada’s only maintained, public, recreational green-space, complete with benches, trees, grass, toilets, showers, a parking lot and direct public access to one of the Caribbean’s finest beaches, Grand Anse.

However, this park, Camerhogne, was unfortunately (for green-space advocates and the thousands of families and youths who make use of the facilities therein), never legislatively designated a reserve or protected area, which is what the NDC and civil society leaders in Grenada have been lately fighting for.

Interestingly, the heavily utilised park is also of historic significance, given the fact that the space is called “Camerhogne,” which is the word that was used as the name for “Grenada,” by the early natives who frequented the area now called “Camerhogne.”

Additionally, when the USAID allocated funds to secure and develop the park, considerations were also given to the benefit of having part of the originally 25-acre space, designed to serve as a green catchment/pond area to assist in mitigating the flooding which affects this area. An OAS study of 1988 confirms this.

More details will follow as the story regarding possible attempts by the NNP Administration, to dispose of or misuse lands of the Grand Etang Forest Reserve, unfolds and develops.

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