Four Seasons' Hotel Chain Threatens Grenada's National Bird with Extinction

Four Seasons' Hotel Chain Threatens Grenada's National Bird with Extinction

From: The American Bird Conservancy

2798(Washington, D.C., 10/18/07) A major resort development on the island of Grenada threatens the largest and most important population of the Critically Endangered Grenada Dove, the island's national bird. American Bird Conservancy recently sent comments to the developer with suggestions on how to protect the dove. A copy of the comment letter is available at https://www.abcbirds.org/media/grenadadove.pdf.

"It appears this project is still moving full steam ahead, unchanged," said Dr. George Wallace, Vice President for International Programs. "With less than one hundred Grenada Doves left, the species is in real danger of going extinct. The developers, Four Seasons, and the government of Grenada have a responsibility to take action to protect it."

Surveys of the Grenada Dove are underway, but it is unclear the degree to which the developers are using this information to guide the design of the resort. In January 2007, photos became available showing that about half of Hog Island had been cleared by bulldozer in the same configuration as the maps presented in development plan, even though the developers and the government of Grenada say no final decision on the development has been made.

"The new survey information should be used to guide the development plan," said Wallace. "In a situation where an endangered species occurs primarily at only one site, we must put that species first."

In southwest Grenada, where most of the doves occur, the dove is protected officially only in the 155-acre national park, created in 1996 to protect the species. Most of the remaining doves are concentrated in the national park and unprotected portions of the 450-acre estate.

The extensive development plan will certainly require the redrawing of the protected area's boundaries and may require that parts of the national park be sold to the developers. The development calls for an 18-hole golf course, central hotel, 107 individual hotel units, and 255 private residential villas, 200 on the mainland and 55 on Hog Island, just offshore. The resort is being developed by United Kingdom-based Capital88 and its Grenadian subsidiary Cinnamon88 Grenada, Ltd., and will be managed and operated by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

In April 2007, the government of Grenada passed an amendment to the National Parks and Protected Areas Act allowing the Governor General to sell any national park to developers or other private interests. Many conservationists believe this is a precursor to developing Mt Hartman National Park.

"Is nothing sacred?" said Wallace. "Selling off a national park is outrageous and not an option Grenada should be considering."

In June 2007, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) became available, but it lacked current and accurate biodiversity information. No field surveys of the dove were done, and the EIA failed to use available survey data to plot dove distribution in relation to the siting of the development, or the existing Park boundaries. The importance of Mt. Hartman to the dove's survival was understated and the EIA did not address the severe impacts on dove habitat and prospects for the species' survival.

In response to criticism about the EIA's many deficiencies, the developers agreed to support a comprehensive dove survey. However, they have also committed to submitting their final master plan to the government for approval, apparently before any public review of the surveys or of the development plan.

"The report indicates that as much as half of the existing dove habitat could be lost," said Wallace. "But it glosses over the fact that this amount of habitat loss greatly increases the dove's chances of extinction."

American Bird Conservancy submitted a detailed critique of the EIA to the Government of Grenada, Cinnamon 88, Capital 88, and Four Seasons on September 17. Cinnamon 88's response did not respond to the critique, but instead informed ABC that stakeholders would learn more of the developer's plans through press announcement to be released soon.

"This only shows the developer's continued resistance to a true process of review," said Wallace. "That is not acceptable because this development threatens the very existence of the Grenada Dove."

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