by Tricia Simon for Grenada Agro Tourism
Grenada is experiencing rapid urban development and this means that with each new building several trees are cut.
Recently, I witnessed a new building being erected, and lo and behold, the landowner cut down every tree: about 4 mature mango trees stating that he wanted a “view”. I agree that the view should not be impeded, but at what cost to the environment?
Grenada has an award winning api-culture or beekeeping sector where trees and bees are at the core of the industry. Garvin Glasgow of G-Links Limited, a premiere honey producer in Grenada stated that on a daily basis a bee can visit up to 5,000 flowers. He further stated that a typical flowering mature mango tree easily allows several worker bees to accomplish that daily requirement. The indiscriminate removal of nectar-producing plants and trees has a negative impact on the honey industry resulting in a drastic decrease in the volume of honey production. Glasgow believes that based on the accolades acquired over the years once the honey industry is properly organised and with collaboration it has the potential to become a significant foreign exchange earner for Grenada.
Bees are tiny creatures and as with most tiny beings, we tend to underestimate their value. The reality is that they are said to pollinate a significant amount of food crops dependent on pollination and “three-quarters of the world’s food crops dependent upon pollinators could falter due to a lack of bees.”
To highlight the importance of bees in the ecosystem José Graziano da Silva FAO Director-General stated the following, “World Bee Day presents an opportunity to recognize the role of beekeeping, bees and other pollinators in increasing food security, improving nutrition and fighting hunger as well as in providing key ecosystem services for agriculture.”
In Grenada, the south of the island is experiencing rapid urban development which correlates to the cutting of trees. Not only does this rapid urbanisation and tree cutting lead to significantly diminished foraging opportunities for the bee population, but also increased drought. Second, we know that trees act as carbon sinks to absorb carbon dioxide which is a major contributor to climate change. Recent studies show that climate change is having a negative effect on bees and pollination wherein, “New research reveals that rising temperatures are causing bees to fly before flowers have bloomed, making pollination less likely.”
Today, we are faced with climate change which affects us all; drought in Europe, floods in the United States, forest fires in the Amazon rainforest, heatwaves in Europe, rising sea levels and coastal erosion in the Caribbean. How does this clear-cutting affect climate change since tree planting is said to be a viable option to fight climate change?
Question – should new construction developments pay an environmental levy to offset the negative effects of tree cutting? The Planning and Development Authority upon the site plan approval can assess the number of trees in a said location. This assessment can then be passed on to the Ministry of Land and Forestry who would then be responsible for planting trees, paid for by the environmental levy. The Ministry of Agriculture can also be involved in land use planning to bolster tree planting. Our modern Grenada society is agrarian where in days gone by the majority of the island was utilised for cocoa, nutmeg and spice production. As we become more urbanised, we have lost a significant portion of our mature trees and fauna. This replanting effort would help to increase our tree canopy as a viable means to decrease the negative effects of climate change and provide trees for the valuable bee population which form a core aspect of our food security system.
In addition, individual households and businesses can also partner with the relevant statutory bodies and government agencies to replant Grenada’s flora and fauna to feed our bees. It is possible that as opposed to having a green lawn homeowners and businesses can plant several trees to sustain the bee population and to aid in the negative climate change. Agriculture can also be increased this way since the island can be segmented in various areas. The coastal regions for planting crops which require little water such as citrus and other fruits. The centre of the island for spices, cocoa and water-intensive plants. The natives of Hawaii are now showing renewed interest in their traditional “ahupua’a system of land development” as a means for sustainable food production and climate protection which uses this method of planting crops based on micro-climatic conditions.
This indiscriminate cutting of trees also has a negative impact on our tourism product as individuals travel to Grenada, the Isle of Spice to enjoy our lush flora and fauna. This includes our cocoa where chocolatiers such as Tri-Island Chocolate, The Grenada Chocolate Company and others produce award-winning chocolate and various spices such as nutmeg. Entities such as Mt Parnassus Plantation produces cocoa and other spices, but not nearly enough to significantly impact the nation’s output. The ubiquitous lawn we see was a creation of perceived wealth in Europe. In today’s day and age, it belongs to a by-gone era as it is a waste of valuable land space and has a negative effect on climate change when we need more trees. We need a mango, cinnamon, cocoa and spice tree in every yard in Grenada to increase the output volume and provide food for the bees. One one cocoa, full basket!
Tricia Simon is an Attorney-at-Law called to the bar in the State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and the Province of Ontario, Canada.