Letters & Opinion, Sounding Off

To Cut Or Not To Cut

Image of Rochelle Gonzales
Image of Rochelle Gonzales
By Rochelle Gonzales

A colleague of mine and I were having a discussion about the recent decision taken to cut down the famous coconut trees at a much loved beach in Laborie which is affectionately known as “Anba Coco”.

She brought the matter up to me and asked me what I thought about it. I could clearly see that she was extremely upset about the decision by the way that she could barely catch her breath whilst telling me about the beach and judging from the numerous posts on social media condemning the decision; she is not alone.

She brought up some fair enough arguments as to why the trees should not be cut down. For example, she was saying that signs could be put up around the beach warning of falling coconuts, that people could be warned about the dangers and that people could be paid to maintain the trees including regular pruning etc.

Now before I told her what I thought, I wanted to know why that decision was made and was told that it was because a tourist got injured after a coconut fell on the leg.

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Well, that was all I needed to hear to solidify my thoughts on the matter.

Firstly, I’m a Castries girl to the bone…I don’t know how proud I am of that but it’s a fact. I think the number of times that I’ve visited the south of the island in my lifetime will fall under 50 so let me emphasise that I don’t share the same sentimental values with the southerners who find this decision to be a travesty.

With that said, my first question is, why was this decision made only after a tourist was injured? Look, I don’t know the facts but I’m willing to bet my last black cent that many locals have been moderately to severely injured as a result of falling coconuts or rotting branches from the beloved trees…why wasn’t action taken then? Is it a case where our people just don’t matter that much to warrant appropriate action in their favour when something of this sort happens to them? I mean, I see it all the time where locals fall victim to numerous flaws in St. Lucia but it is only when visitors are injured or that someone is actually KILLED that people get off their butts to fix the initial problem.

Now, let me touch upon my colleague’s suggestions.

Signs should be placed around the beach – firstly, it is a sad day when I have to openly admit that many of my people simple don’t like to read or in quite a few cases, they can’t read. Now tell me, what good is a sign when it is going to be ignored? One might say “well, that’s their business. They should be more cognisant of their surroundings” Sorry, but to me, ignorance in this case should not be the reason for someone to be allowed to get themselves hurt or even worse. Fact of the matter is, we know that people will not read the signs so safety measures should be put in place for EVERYBODY.

Secondly, what if I decide to go to that beach with my family? I have a lively little one year old who thinks he’s Usain Bolt and won’t stop running. So who would be blamed if he just happens to run underneath or near one of those trees and something falls on his head? Surely he couldn’t read the signs could he? Or should the lynch mob come after me for being the bad mother who let her baby frolic on the shore away from the water and through my negligence, he met his demise?!

I used myself as an unlikely example but something like this is very possible as I’m sure that families with small children visit the beach ever so often.

People should be warned of the dangers – The same way many locals don’t like reading, they also have this silly “Who are you to tell me what to do?” attitude and God forbid that you caution someone’s child/children…you might just get your head bitten clean off for sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong although you were genuinely trying to help.

This simply would not work and again, the ignorance thing comes into play where it is still not an Ok reason for someone to be hurt or killed.

Pay people to maintain the trees – as feasible as this might sound, right here right now in St. Lucia, it is laughable. If there are so many important tasks that need serious attention yet they are still being placed on the back burner due to lack of funds, who will pay people to prune trees simply because the people love the trees and it is a signature for the beach? REALLY NOW? I’m not even going into details for that one. Like I said, it sounds practical but with the island’s financial constraints, this is one expense that can be spared.

Hey, at the end of the day, I love trees just as much as the next guy and I consider myself to be extremely environmentally friendly and conscious but safety comes first and in this case, these trees are indeed hazardous and did I forget to mention that they are being replaced by safer trees?

My gripe is that it should have been done a long time ago and not only now as a tourist was hurt. Tree huggers can hug away but a tall tree like a coconut tree, I’m sure that even the stumps will be tall enough to give a good ole hug.

Rochelle entered the Media fraternity in May 2011 as a fresh-faced young woman with a passion for the English language, a thirst for worldly knowledge and a longing to inform the world of what was happening around them, whether it was good or bad.

She began as part of a small news team at Choice Television, which falls under the MediaZone umbrella. She was hired as one of the original members of the newly created Choice News Now team...Read full bio...



  1. Maybe before writing this piece you should have done some researching to get a better perspective of the issue. I do respect your opinion since you are entitled to them, but as a Laborian I am totally against your position on this matter. You are from Castries so your position is understandable but totally in the minority on this matter.
    By your logic, we should remove all coconut trees on all beaches in St.Lucia since fallen coconuts do not discriminate nor does it announce when it needs to release coconuts or branches. Society have to accept a certain level of risk since we experience risk in our lives on a daily basic. Like your daily commute.
    Your logic is so draconian, since there are a myriad of ways to help ensure the safety of beach goers without cutting those trees. You did mention a few in your piece like scheduling the timely pruning and removing of the nuts. With safety, money should not be an issue and this should not be a costly matter either.
    We love our coconut trees and have learned to leaved with them for as long as I have been around., this is part of the charm and allure of Laborie beach and why people from all over St.Lucia come to enjoy our hospitality and beautiful beach.
    The Laborie community is up in arms in opposition to this issue.

  2. I don’t even think you need to have signs everywhere – it’s a coconut tree; WTF do you expect it to do. If you park your car under a tree where there are lots of birds, you will get bird shit on your car.

    I have paid fellas to go and climb some trees to remove some – it costs little. It doesn’t even warrant meaningful employment as some are suggesting, it’s just quick maintenance of a public asset a couple of times a year.

    I agree that there is an element of acting once a tourist has been hit, but i dont think he/she complained? It is just an overreaction, and hopefully enough people can show their opinion to stop it. People come to the island to see coconut trees and beaches, many are environmentally conscious and would tell everyone that the trees need to be kept. You would get rid of the things which attract people in the first place? They’re not coming for all the litter everywhere..

    Rochelle you have got this completely upside down I’m afraid. Your safety over everything attitude condemns everyone to a soulless, joyless existence as well as displaying breathtaking ignorance about environmental protection. You can’t change things just because you are scared about some far off probability, otherwise you would never get in a car or go for a swim. You should focus your attention on the thousand of other things which are likely to do you harm.

  3. Please don’t cut down the coconut tree. This tree gives authenticity to the Lucian-Caribbean beach. If you want a plain beach just go to a N.Y. City beach, or the Jersey shore, but cutting these beautiful trees down, destroys that picture-perfect beach that attracts the same tourist you want to protect from what attracts him to the island paradise in the first place.

  4. Firstly, I do love Ms Rochelle, however, I must commend the above blogger responses fo their ecological awareness and sensitivity to sustainable issues- I do feel their angst and love for the precious southern coastline.
    Secondly, I have had the fortunate “blessing “of schooling in Castries and living for significant periods of time in EVERY parish of then peaceful idyllic St Lucia- supported by middle class amenities- whose values today I struggle to afford even as a professional in the diaspora. Therefore, my love for the Land of St. Lucia supersedes any of the meager social opportunities my transitional lifestyle precluded.
    The people I still feel attached to are the farmers and small villages of St Lucia
    Fo me, they are the sentinels of land sustainability and potential agents of ecological survival for this Simply Beautiful Land.
    Although I spent most of my primary school education at Boy’s primary near the suare in Castries, my fondest recollections are Vigie and Reduit Beach. Yet, these are not the crème de la la crème of our coastal paradise.
    On a Psy Ink Blot test vistas score negatively but for deep human visual allure there is nothing like a COCONUT TREE near a beach. I have bathed NAKED at midnight on a moon lit night at Laborie beach in question- following a long Lochheed L1011 TRI star jet flight from JFK
    (too bad we now have only tight fitting 737 or A300 series jets)
    before winding my way up to Choiseul and Fond St Jacques to visit relatives.
    I shall never forget the vista of moonlight silhouette through coconut branches and its shimmering play on the water in its irridescent splendor. No pay check in el nort has evoked such joy and a return to Eden impulse to plunge in Naked and unafraid.
    Oh please God, I am grateful for economic opportunity outside St. Lucia
    but Please
    Dear God
    I Pray
    do not let them destroy the simple things
    that are the only reason I dream of visiting…..
    Nuff tears!

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