The New Today


Destroying wetlands

Regarding the BirdsCaribbean article concerns about the three proposed development projects (Mt. Hartman, La Sagesse and Levera) in Grenada, I am deeply concerned as an environmental and engineering geologist.

I believe that sustainable development, especially in small island states such as Grenada and the Caribbean must take into consideration the sensitivity of our very fragile ecosystems (biological, air and water) and our small landmass.

As discussed in the article, our dove, an endangered species, and other endangered birds must be protected at all cost so that future generations can enjoy these wonderful avian species.

Our mangroves provide so much by way of fish spawning and are critical wetlands that act as filters and buffers protecting our coastline from flooding and inundation by hurricanes and tides. Mangroves are also one of nature’s best field labs and probably are some of the best areas to study climate change since they offer unique plant species that are sensitive to small changes in the environment.

In Grenada and small island states, there is very little choice but to protect our limited resources. Mitigation measures are not likely to work for the following reasons:

  • Urbanisation and clearance of large amounts of land will forever change the landscape removing protective barriers (upland vegetation and mangrove) critical to protecting our shoreline;
  • Removal of the vegetative cover and the mangrove will increase the potential for storm water pollution and the discharge of pollutants to our marine resources resulting in possible fish kill and the loss of coral reefs;
  • Development will results in more permeable surfaces (roof, roads) increasing storm water runoff carrying with it more pollutants and the likelihood of erosion and flooding; and,
  • In larger counties, a common mitigation measure is mitigation banking. If a wetland is destroyed, one of equal size or larger will be created in another area, using funds set aside, so that there is no net loss of wetlands. This approach is not likely to work in Grenada and small island states because of its limited size and the fact that wetlands required unique soil characteristics, hydrology and plant life. For example, mangroves are unique vegetation and only found in certain parts of Grenada and Carriacou.

In summary, I think that small island states, such as Grenada, need to ensure that development projects are harmonious with our environment. I also think that prior to starting any projects it is necessary to conduct an environmental assessment to discover all resources that are present and may be impacted and to consult with the affected communities to determine whether the project is a go or no go.

It is disrespectful to the communities if they are not consulted with prior to clearance of any land proposed for project development.

Avid Environmentalist