Grenada Government defiant as dove sanctuary protest grows
Pressure continues to be put on the government of Grenada and the Four Seasons Hotel Group by conservationists worldwide, after proposed plans to build a large-scale resort on one of the last remaining habitats for Grenada Dove Leptotila wellsi appear to continue unabated.
The Mount Hartman National Park – coined the ‘Dove Sanctuary’ – is to be sold to make way for the Four Seasons Resort. The National Park holds 22% of the global population of this Critically Endangered bird – equating to just 20 pairs.
Since news of the potential sale of the park was announced a number of ornithologists, conservation organisations and high-profile supporters have lent their voice to the campaign, putting forward arguments against the sale and condemning the government of Grenada and Four Seasons for what are deemed by many to be “irresponsible” actions.
Most recently, respected author Graeme Gibson has fronted a website that gives advice to those seeking information on how best to lobby the government of Grenada and Four Seasons on the issue.
Events started in December 2006 when BirdLife International first reported news of the potential sale of the National Park. A press release at the time talked of the government “critically compromising” the dove, and showing a “complete disregard” for environmental protection. (‘Government of Grenada sells off National Park for Four Seasons resort’, 19 Dec 2006)
A later press release saw BirdLife raise issue with the Government’s subsequent claims that the development – a 150 room hotel, with 300 separate villas, a golf course, marina and conference centre – would not damage the Grenada Dove habitat. (‘No peace on Earth for rare dove’, 22nd December 2006).
“We will continue pushing the government and Four Seasons until they share their plans and open the doors for productive dialogue.” —David Wege , Caribbean Programme Manager, BirdLife International
“The Government’s claim…is totally unfounded since there has been no analysis of the potential impact of the development on the dove.” David Wege, Caribbean Programme Manager at BirdLife, said at the time.
Pressure has also been applied by Bird Studies Canada and Nature Canada (both BirdLife Partners in Canada).
A recent high-profile article in Canada’s Globe & Mail (‘A dying dove’s eviction notice’, 27 January 2007) has highlighted the varied opinions on the subject. While all of those quoted in the article agree that action needs to be taken to ensure that the dove persists on Grenada, many disagree on whether this is realistic within the grounds of such a large-scale hotel development.
One thing remains clear though: if the sale goes ahead, opportunities still exist to make steps necessary to better ensure a future for Grenada Dove on the island.
BirdLife’s stance on the issue remains firm:
“We will continue pushing the government and Four Seasons until they share their plans and open the doors for productive dialogue.” David Wege said earlier today.
Grenada Dove is the national bird of Grenada. In recent years it has been celebrated in Grenada as an icon for conservation, ecotourism and the environment and as such it has appeared in schools, festivals and even on stamps.
Noted author Graeme Gibson, who alongside Margaret Atwood is a co-patron of BirdLife’s Rare Bird Club, has created a website offering advice and information to those who are interested in supporting the campaign and lobbying both Grenada and the Four Seasons. The website can be found at: www.grenadadovecampaign.com