The tiny island nation of Grenada, one more piece of paradise in the Caribbean, is probably best known as the site of one of the more absurd military interventions in U.S. history (itself subsequently dramatized in an equally ludicrous film starring Clint Eastwood, Heartbreak Ridge).
Grenada’s new claim to fame might be equally ignoble. A number of interested parties including the Grenadian government, a Barbados-based developer, and the Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts Limited, have set in motion a plan that will likely result in the extinction of the country’s national bird, the Grenada Dove (Leptotila wellsi).
The bird is critically endangered: between 100 and 200 individuals are thought to be surviving in the already undersized Mount Harman National Park. This sanctuary, established in 1996, is now under threat of being opened up by the Grenadian government so that a luxurious new Four Seasons Resort can take root. Various ornithologists, environmental scientists, and conservationists agree that irreparable degradation of the dove’s dry forest habitat is inevitable if the development goes forward.
At the prompting of BirdLife International, one of the world’s premier conservation organizations, two of Toronto’s literary luminaries, Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, have joined the fight to help save the dove. As Joint Presidents of BirdLife’s Rare Bird Club of Canada, Atwood and Gibson have entered into correspondence with Four Seasons and the Grenadian government and set up an essential website devoted to the whole regrettable mess.
In light of Four Seasons’s involvement, which predictably enough its top executives describe in a prevaricatory manner, Toronto residents have a unique opportunity to speak out against one of the more egregious examples of the profit motive trouncing biodiversity. The Atwood / Gibson website provides all the necessary resources to join the campaign.
If the development goes forward, it is a virtual certainty that the Four Seasons will market the resort experience as edenic; a chance to commune with the glories of the natural world. Indeed.
One more disgraceful episode in the ever-hastening ‘end of the wild.’