The Saint Lucia National Trust is fighting two planning battles at either end of their beautiful island.
At the INTO members Global Meet-up on Tuesday, Director Bishnu Tulsie briefed us on these alarming development proposals. Firstly, to build a dolphin park at Pigeon Island, one of the Trust’s most significant sites. Secondly, construction of a causeway to link the mainland with the Maria Islands, a vitally important nature reserve.
Almost exactly a year ago, we published our ‘State of Global Heritage Report’. The report is, intriguingly, even available on the Saint Lucia National Trust website where they have highlighted the following quote from Fiona:
“Our global heritage is under threat. I recently asked the 66 INTO member organisations that constitute the worldwide National Trust movement what they saw as the greatest threat to heritage. I expected climate change, war and conflict or even tourism to be their response. But there was one resounding and clear answer from them – apathy on behalf of both governments and people.”
The Saint Lucia National Trust is quite rightly “vehemently opposed” to the Pigeon Island plans. They believe that a dolphin park “would desecrate the historic value of the only National Landmark on the island”. In addition, “they will not stand for the captivity of dolphins which are highly intelligent species”.
In the south of the island, the Trust is pitted against a multi-million dollar project to connect the Maria Islands and build a causeway to the mainland.
“The Trust has been trying feverishly to obtain official project documents from the relevant authorities but to no avail. This proposed plan threatens Maria Islands, a Nature Reserve, which is the home of the world’s rarest snake, the Saint Lucian Racer as well as the Saint Lucia whiptail and many other unique flora and fauna.”
At a lively meeting of the Trust membership on 13 March, members “mandated the Saint Lucia National Trust to do everything in its power (i) to prevent the development of the Dolphin Park at the Pigeon Island National Landmark or anywhere else in Saint Lucia; (ii) to prevent the building of the proposed causeway from the mainland to Maria Islands in Vieux Fort and (iii) to explore whether the works that have already been started by the DSH [the investor at Maria Islands] are legal considering that the environmental impact assessment process has not been completed.”
I really feel for our friends in Saint Lucia. The Saint Lucia National Trust really impressed me when I visited last year. This situation must feel very bleak.
But the point of INTO is to raise our combined voice in situations like these. I have already written to all our members asking for assistance. Our hope is that INTO members will share similar experiences, ideas and potential solutions. I also hope that we can stand together in solidarity. And moreover that we can help spread the word about Saint Lucia before it’s too late.
“Many national trusts find themselves fighting development pressures when the appeal of short-term economic gain is set against the longer-term benefits of a high quality cultural and natural environment” (The State of Global Heritage 2016).
Our Report revealed that the key to successfully moving forward is in understanding the benefits heritage brings to places. Sharing knowledge, building capacity and skills, and engaging local communities is crucial in considering how to balance tourism, economic growth and environmental issues for the sustainable management of special places.
In conclusion, public engagement is essential – and the Saint Lucia National Trust is doing just that!
“Without strong awareness a perceived apathy will be mirrored by the low position of conservation on a government’s priorities and consequently lower levels of funding and support” (The State of Global Heritage 2016).
Thanks for reading!
Share ideas and experiences of similar situations via the INTO Secretariat
Sign the Pigeon Island petition
Say NO to building a causeway to Maria Islands Nature Reserve