Grenada is an island famed for its natural beauty and cultural resources. Elfin woodland dwarfed forests descend to montane rain forests, to lowland dry forests to mangrove and exquisite coral reefs. Lagoons, beaches, bays and rugged cliffs cover the coasts. Grenada has over 450 species of flowering plants and 150 species of birds, indicating great ecological diversity in a relatively small area. Likewise, the island is dotted with a diversity of cultural resources: Carib (Amerindian) archeological sites; historical sites covering over 400 years of history including forts, sugar mills, rum distilleries and estate houses; and living cultures representing unique ways of social, economic and cultural life such as nutmeg, mace, and all-spice estates, artisanal fishing and boat building facilities.
Over the past several decades ever-increasing pressures have been placed on the country's natural resource base resulting in notable increases in soil erosion; sedimentation of river systems and water supplies; hydrological regime imbalances reflected in flooding and drought periods; decreases in agricultural and fisheries productivity; and loss of habitat. Likewise, historic and archeological sites have suffered continued deterioration due to lack of clear responsibility for their management or neglect.
At the same time there is an increasing demand for recreational opportunities and education programs for Grenada's population. Likewise, there is a major need for a much greater variety of developed natural and cultural areas for both nationals and tourists.
In response, the Government of Grenada placed the establishment of a national park and protected areas program as a priority in the development plan for 1986 and requested technical assistance from the Organization of American States, Department of Regional Development. Protected areas form an integral part of the wise management of natural resources. While protecting a nation's natural and cultural heritage, protected areas play a major role in sustained production and development through their critical support of water quality and supply, forest and agricultural production, erosion and sedimentation control, watershed regime balance, recreation, tourism, fisheries production and environmental education.
A total of 27 areas for Grenada and sixteen for Carriacou are recommended for inclusion within the National Park System. Of the total, three units are recommended as National Parks, eleven as Protected Seascapes, eleven as Natural Landmarks, twelve as Cultural Landmarks, and four as Multiple-use areas. This represents approximately 11,008 acres of terrestrial area or about 13% of the total land surface of the country. In addition, several marine areas are proposed for inclusion within the System.
Of the total land area within the System (excluding Cultural landmarks) 8,505 or 77% of the land is classified as Class VI land which is unsuitable for agriculture due to slope and/or water limitations. Much of the remaining is seasonally flooded or biologically fragile habitat such as mangroves.
Full implementation of the Protected Areas Program will require significant human and financial resources. Initially a position of Manager of National Parks and Wildlife will be created, supported by two forest rangers, but as national education and tourism programs are realized, increased staff will be necessary.
This document is flexible and is intended to adapt to changing governmental plans and policies. As national development strategies and priorities evolve, so too will the National Parks and Protected Areas Policy. Changes in land tenure and land-use, public environmental awareness, and recreational habits are all factors which will help form an effective conservation program for Grenada.