Country Club Housing Development
Environmental Impact Statement
BirdLife Jamaica has reviewed the Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS) for the controversial proposed HOPE COUNTRY CLUB HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
with particular interest in the faunal survey thereof. BirdLife
Jamaica is the only local organization specifically interested in
the conservation of Jamaicas birds and their habitats. Where
as the organization has not taken a public position on the development
itself, BirdLife in a letter to the executive director of the Natural
Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA), Mr. Franklin McDonald has
noted that it finds the results the faunal survey surprising.
Pointing out that the EIS revealed surpassingly low numbers of birds
in both numbers of species and individuals, BirdLife went on to
state that the stated method of assessment appeared insufficient
to give credibility to the data collected. BirdLife (using recently
collected data and historical information from the area in question)
pointed out that bird species observed in the development area on
all recorded visits by BirdLife for the past years were surprisingly
not found by the assessors. Contrary to BirdLife's reports of an
average of 20-30 species being found per visit to the area, the
EIS found only seven (7) and this seven includes such ubiquitous
species as the Turkey Vultures (John Crow).
BirdLife Jamaica notes that birds are excellent indicators of the
state of our environment. In faunal assessments on islands such
as Jamaica, birds form a significant part of any survey of the fauna
because other animal groups (such as mammals, insects, reptiles,
and amphibians) are usually scarce and/or more difficult to sample.
The great diversity of both resident and migratory birds within
and surrounding the Hope Gardens including the adjoining foot hills
have made this area a prime attraction for nature lovers and birdwatchers
in particular. This area being unequaled as a birdwatching site
within the Kingston metropolitan area. There is no doubt that further
clearing, fragmentation and development will decrease the use of
the area by birds generally.
The Natural History Society of Jamaica has also questioned the credibility
of the vegetation and wildlife data of the HOPE COUNTRY CLUB HOUSING
DEVELOPMENT EIS. Here it has been pointed out that compared to the
mere hand full of plants (10 species of herbs) recorded by the EIS,
some seventy (70) plant species were previously identified by a
Hope Zoo task force botanist.
Thanks to current legislation, developers are now required not only
to submit an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) but to allow adequate
time for public comment. Unfortunately, few of individuals know
enough about an EIS to be able to comment if and when they are unhappy
about a proposed development. The public, environmental groups and
individuals however have a very real role to play in monitoring
environmental impacts, particularly prior to the commencement of
an operation. At this point, the accurate and careful collection
of baseline data must be stressed.
(Catherine Levy, President)
(Leo Douglas, Media Relations Officer)
Contributed by Leo Douglas
2 Starlight Ave,
Office address: (Open: 9 am to 5 pm)
Dept. of Life Sciences,
University of the West Indies
Mona, Kingston 7.
Tel & fax (876) 927-1864