THE Saint Lucia National Trust says it has grave concerns about the inclusion of the Mankote Mangrove within the boundaries of a 700 acre development project announced for the Vieux Fort area.
The Trust in its first official statement on the Pearl of the Caribbean Project signed last month between the government and Desert Star Holdings, said its concerns had to do with “the related environmental and socio- economic dislocation” that may be caused.
The Trust said since announcement of the project, it had received several enquiries from diverse interests, including from its members, on its views on the project, “given both its scope and location, which encompasses one of the most diverse, and archeologically and resource –rich areas of Saint Lucia”.
The Trust said it attended a presentation on the project in January 2016, and in June 2016 was invited too, and has submitted inputs into the Terms of Reference for an Environmental Impact Assessment of the project as requested by the Development Control Authority.
It said: “Through these engagements the Trust has some understanding of the project and is in the process of acquiring additional information to close its knowledge gap. We will be presenting the information we have to our members and other interested stakeholders in order to seek their views on the project. We will also be engaging public and private sector interests to gain further insights into its scope and potential economic, social and environmental impacts.
“As is our practice, we will consider all views and recommendations and weigh these against our mandate and philosophy to arrive at our position and to derive recommendations regarding the project. We do have, however, some grave concerns about the inclusion of the Mankòtè Mangrove within the project boundaries and the related environmental and socio-economic dislocation this may cause.”
The Trust said one of its guiding principles was that conservation and development are not mutually exclusive.
It said: “Rather, we hold steadfast to the view that conservation enhances development, promotes stakeholder support, minimizes socio-economic dislocation and helps to ensure long term viability and sustainability of development projects. In this regard, we are pleased to note the Honourable Prime Minister’s description of ‘….. Saint Lucia’s own value proposition of economic viability, sustainability and social equity….’ and look forward to these principles being integrated into the design, approval and execution of the project.”