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.
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.