Our Paradise and Sovereignty under Siege - Protect Grenada from Destructive Development!
Our Paradise and Sovereignty under Siege - Protect Grenada from Destructive Development!
We, the concerned people of Grenada, demand better governance for land use and project development. We call upon the government and the Planning and Development Authority to act in the interest of our communities and protect our shared natural and cultural heritage in La Sagesse, Mount Hartman & Levera. Moving forward, we demand more inclusive sustainable development planning through the establishment of a National Physical Development Plan - this is long overdue.
We appreciate the necessity of development in Grenada, and we do not intend in any way to hamper the economic potential of the country or jeopardize the creation of much-needed jobs, particularly in the rural parishes. However, this should not happen to the detriment of the country’s invaluable and finite cultural and environmental assets. Thus, in the interest of Grenada and Grenadians, we appeal to the Planning and Development Authority for the modification and revocation of the planning permissions following section 28 of the Physical Planning Act for the developments mentioned above.
A repeated thread of failed developments in the country in the past decade has taught us that not all promises from potential projects are met with success, even if they are promoted by financially-worthy and previously-successful investors (Victoria, Bacolet Bay, all previous projects proposed at Mt. Hartman, numerous abandoned developments on the coast of St. David, and many more). Sadly, there are multiple examples of our lands being cleared and bulldozed under failed projects, often due to insufficient funds and corruption. Left behind are trails of debts, broken promises of job creation, and destruction with no recourse to remediation (e.g., golf course in Levera 2004, Grenada Resort in 2016). Should all those projects have perpetrated the level of clearing and environmental damage created practically overnight by Range Development in La Sagesse, the “Pure Grenada” brand would be left with irreparable scars to our unique eco-product. This type of development ultimately devalues our social, cultural, and economic potential.
We ask the Government to put in place:
Safeguards for La Sagesse
Halt all further works of the Six Senses La Sagesse Resort project undertaken by Range Development. Repeal or withhold building permission (as allowed for in the Physical Planning Act of Grenada) until the developer has conducted meaningful, transparent stakeholder consultations with the community and experts, and agrees to a memorandum of understanding on how to repair the damage done to the pond and the wetlands. Enforce the recommendations of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which was conducted for the La Sagesse project going forward, along with appropriate monitoring protocols. Ensure satisfactory beach access and enjoyment of the area for the general public.
Safeguards for Mount Hartman and Levera
Prevent any development until full planning permission has been granted, guided by the completion of a thorough EIA and public consultations. The conditions under which the permission is granted need to be made publicly available for viewing, and active monitoring protocols must be enforced. Ensure thorough and peer-reviewed mitigation measures are developed and in place to mitigate all threats to the survival of the Grenada Dove and the National Park lands prior to any further development-related activities. Revise the development plans of Levera and Mount Hartman Estate, including removing the marina project from the development, to ensure that our wetlands and mangroves are minimally impacted. Destroying these wetlands is inconsistent with Grenada's commitment under the Caribbean Challenge Initiative to protect 25% of our marine and terrestrial resources.
Public Consultations and EIA Transparency
Further, we request that regulations be passed pursuant to section 22(4) of the Physical Planning Act, to provide specific guidance and standardisation on how EIAs should be conducted and to make public participation mandatory, which is not currently the case. We ask that the Grenada Physical Planning Unit makes planning permissions and conditions for all projects publicly available on an easily accessible government portal within the next six months. We request that planning permissions are made publicly available a minimum of 90 days prior to any development commencing. EIAs must be mandated to become publicly available information. This ensures that those conducting the EIA and those overseeing it can be held accountable.
National Physical Development Plan
Finally, we implore the Government to establish a National Physical Development Plan to implement an inclusive planning approach to national development, which ensures that the interests of our communities and the integrity of our shared environment is safeguarded.
What is happening, and why are we concerned?
At La Sagesse – listed as a Natural Landmark and Area of Cultural and Historical Interest – there has been extensive clearcutting of mangroves and other vegetation on the headland and around the salt pond, to build the 100-room, Six Senses Resort, which ironically is promoted as a sustainability brand. Before the extensive clear-cutting, La Sagesse Pond supported white and buttonwood mangrove, providing cover for the nesting activities of critically endangered Hawksbill Turtles. The beach is also a nesting site for the endangered Leatherback Turtle. A diverse array of some 80 bird species attracts birding tours. The area is a beloved recreational space for visitors and Grenadians alike. Under an older Parks and Protected Areas Plan, the area was proposed as a protected seascape to preserve it for the enjoyment of current and future generations. The entire southeast coast of Grenada, which encompasses this site, has also been proposed as a future marine protected area under the Caribbean Challenge Initiative.
Mt Hartman Estate
Mt Hartman Estate is home to our critically endangered national bird the Grenada Dove (only about 110 adults remaining). With its unique dry coastal scrub ecosystem and biodiversity, Mt Hartman Estate is internationally recognized as an Important Bird Area (IBA) and as an Endemic Bird Area of the Lesser Antilles by BirdLife International and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The dry forest habitat is presently being cleared for a new resort development adjacent to the National Park by the Mt Hartman Resort Group Ltd., but this will have severe impacts on the park itself and threaten the survival of the Grenada Dove. The two associated wetlands provide critical habitat for numerous species of resident and migratory shorebirds and waterbirds, including species of conservation concern.
Communications with the Grenadian Government’s Physical Planning Unit indicate that they are apparently unaware of the project and have not given any permission. There is no known EIA in progress. The National Park is an important tourism asset for the discerning high-end tourists, who have been visiting Grenada for the pristine natural assets it still possesses. More importantly, Mt. Hartman Estate provides invaluable ecosystem services to the environment and surrounding communities. Encompassing the largest expanse of black mangroves on the island as well as red mangroves, Mt. Hartman Estate provides a meaningful “nursery” for fisheries stock to the Woburn fishing community. The mangroves and wetlands act as a buffer zone for land-based pollution, a natural filter for water, they provide protection from storms and flooding. Tourist dollars cannot compensate for the mindless destruction of these essential natural habitats and the services and protection they render to our communities.
The Levera wetland is Grenada’s only Ramsar site, designated as a Wetland of International Importance on May 22, 2012. Despite an EIA still being underway, the forest has already been removed to build temporary housing for a one billion dollar resort to be constructed under the Citizenship by Investment programme by the Singapore Heng Sheng (Grenada) Development PTE LTD company. The over 500-hectare site includes a variety of habitats: woodland, dry scrub forest, mangrove wetlands, beach, brackish pond, seagrass beds, and coral reefs. Surrounded by red, white, black, and buttonwood mangroves, the large freshwater pond and beach area boast the most extensive diversity of birds on the island, with over 85 species documented on eBird Caribbean from 2006 to date. Levera Beach hosts the third largest nesting site for Endangered Leatherback sea turtles in the Caribbean region. There are also the remains of an Amerindian archaeological site that has only been minimally investigated. Tellingly, a recent survey of stakeholders done in 2016 in the communities in and around Levera suggests that less than 15% of individuals support hotel development. More than two-thirds support establishing a National Park and Recreational Area and have suggestions for how they would like to see their community involved through a "co-management" approach.
Bottom line: We are proud of Grenada’s unspoiled natural beauty and if you believe that these places are irreplaceable - then for love of country - please sign this petition.
- Grenada Physical Planning Act (2016)
- Six Senses Project by Range Development
- BirdsCaribbean Expresses Deep Concern Over Three Damaging Developments in Grenada
- The Levera Pond Protected Area - A Stakeholder View by St. Patricks Environmental Community Tourism Association
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