The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was signed in 1971 in a city called Ramsar in Iran.
The convention recognises wetlands which they consider to be of International importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat and speaks to the conservation and sustainable use of Ramsar sites (wetlands).
The Levera wetlands are somewhere between 3000 and 5000 years old. Nature, in her bounty, provides us with wetlands, which include mangroves, to be a boundary between the sea and the land.
In 2012, after years of consistent lobbying from FOE-Grenada and other groups, the leadership and the staff of the Forestry Department in Grenada, persuaded the Government to have Levera designated as a Wetlands of International Importance, a Ramsar Site, with a surface area of 518 hectares, coordinates: 12°13’28″N 61°36’36″W.
This was agreed because Levera is a unique representation of an almost pristine ecosystem, including a mangrove swamp, sandy beaches, coral reefs, seagrass beds, and an offshore island.
The site hosts the critically endangered species leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricate), elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), and the endemic Grenada Hook-billed Kite (Chondrohierax uncinatus mirus), which depends on forest habitats, including wooded freshwater swamps, and mangrove swamps.
It is of particular significance as a nesting site of the leatherback turtles, a species in danger of extinction, receiving from 200 to 900 nesting activities annually, supporting at least 1% of the individuals of this species.
The RAMSAR site includes the Levera pond, the entire beach in Levera and Sugar Loaf. Now that it is an Internationally recognised wetlands of importance, the site cannot be changed or moved unless there is a comprehensive process undertaken with representatives of RAMSAR.
The Department of Forestry has to contact RAMSAR and a delegation will come to discuss further what can happen in relation to the boundaries of the RAMSAR site. This process, as far as we know, has not happened.
However, the boundaries of the RAMSAR site have been changed, without consultation with anyone, to accommodate the development by Hengsheng.
In comments on social media, Friends of the Earth and other groups are being accused of standing in the way of progress, of not wanting better for the people of Grenada. Therefore, we ask you to seriously consider what is better for Grenada.
The construction of three 16 storey buildings (a 500 room complex) with a 18 hole golf course, all which will need an enormous amount of water to function while destroying the very nature which is a necessary actor in making rain, the trees and the mangroves.
Do we want a concrete jungle in the middle of Levera or do we want to maintain a mangrove which is there to protect us against sea level rise, one aspect of climate change?
FOE -Grenada is not against economic activity but not at any cost, any economic activity has to be in the context of working in tandem with nature and ecology.
We are already suffering from our own actions, for example, the devastation of the beaches in Sauteurs due to the hurried construction of the Breakwater – the wall.
Climate change also contributes – the heat in the South of the island, particularly in St George is almost unbearable due to the deforestation of the entire city having been replaced by concrete and more concrete.
Why would anyone choose this outcome for St Patrick with its glorious, beautiful nature and cooler temperatures?
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2021-2030 as the ‘UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’. The UN Decade is a universal call for the protection and revival of ecosystems around the world, for the benefit of people and nature. This includes the Levera RAMSAR site.
UN Member States have committed to building synergies between existing ecosystem conservation and restoration commitments thus addressing the dangerous loss of biodiversity and safeguarding ecosystem services.
For some unknown reason, we in Grenada, seem to be in a mad rush to continue to destroy nature; our largest mangroves, La Sagesse, Mt Hartman and Levera are prime examples.
In the light of the ever increasing threats of climate change, this is utter madness.
The above reflects the views of Friends of the Earth-Grenada