The Cotton Silk Tree At Warrens Must Go

Local environmental activist Agyeman Kofi wants a sculpture using the trunk of the Cotton Silk tree to be integrated in the Warren design and the area named Centennial Pass (see illustration)

Earlier this year BU posted the blog Protecting Our History, Save The Silk Cotton And Boabab Trees. The days of the Silk Cotton Tree are numbered because of the Warrens development in progress. Abdul Pandor, the engineer responsible for the project was adamant the tree has to be cut down at the onsite meeting staged in March of this year. The few Barbadians who attended to protest the decision to cut down the tree received assurances from government officials that an alternative would be found.

An update on this matter is that a final decision has been taken to cut the tree down. It appears the cost to acquire the land necessary to circumvent the area of the Silk Cotton Tree is estimated at 1.4 million dollars. The fact that a tree which has achieved 25 feet girth of Bajan history does not provoke enough consideration to salvage it.

How it is we have ended up in such a bad place where we would design a road works program which dismisses any recognition of our heritage? How can we cut down a tree which has been part of our landscape and history for decades? What message does it send to our young people who are struggling with the need to be aware and friendly of the environment?

One of our sons of the soil at the forefront of promoting awareness of the environment is resigned to the inevitable occurring. As a counter-measure, he has proposed that the area be named  Centennial Pass and a sculpture using the trunk of the destroyed tree be integrated in the design. A constructive suggestion which does not not remove the concern that this tree should not have to die because of the ignorance of man.

The current state makes one wonder if Minister Kellman had retained the environment ministry if the tree would have to suffer the same fate. Feedback circulating that Minister Denis Lowe does not have a good working relationship with the Future Centre Trust,  the largest NGO with concern for the environment, is mindboggling. It would seem by using a modicum of commonsense  the two should be working hand and glove to confront the herculean task at hand.

The one good coming out of this fiasco is that it has served as a tipping point to encourage civic minded Barbadians to protest by using social media to mobilize.

0 thoughts on “The Cotton Silk Tree At Warrens Must Go


  1. If they can put in 40 million into cbc they can put 3.4 milion to save a tree that will last far longer than cbc. Guess the next point will be that empire is too costly to save so knock it down and start afresh.


  2. I remember there was a wooded area in Paynes Bay, just south of the Methodist Church, with some beautiful Bajan mahogany tree. When a building project was started there, a few of the tree were cut down. there was a huge outcry from many bajans and we were told no more tree were to be cut. Today there are no tree left there, when the powers that be intend to do something, no amount of protest will stop it, that silk cotton tree will go and bajans will protest for a week or until we find something else to grumble about.


  3. Boss Man, you really feel that serious consideration was given to preserving that tree. You can’t recognize a pappy show when you see one?
    That tree was a goner from the time it was decided that the road was going to be expanded. You think the people that get tax payers money to design that road didn’t see the tree?

    How much the Turf Club and Yacht Club did owe? How much Clico get again?
    $3.4M too much my arse!
    These people does mek muh stomach sick.


  4. Professor fraser where are you on this issue? Do you expect any thing different from dennis low(e), his height will prevent him from seeing the “High” picture. he is a goner in the next elections.

    Money speaks in this country, ask bizzy williams and he can tell you who is in his hip pocket.


  5. The engineer who designed the road “overlooking” that the tree was there should be fired.

    The tree was there 500 years before he was born.

    Silk cotton trees have powers, if it is cut down a sad personal and financial fate will befall all those who give permission, who failed to design the tree into their plans and those who do the actual cutting.

    Silk cotton trees have a long and honourable traditon in West African and Bajan Obi traditions.

    Cut it down at your peril.

    Lest we forget some years ago there was a plan to cut down the stand of mahogany trees opposite the Mental hospital. People protested. The authorities listened, and the road widening and sidewalk was dedesigned to accomodate the mahoganies, this meant taking down the coral stone wall of the Psychiatric hospital, and rebuildinng it about 15 feet further in, thus saving the trees. Today they still beautify and cool the area.


  6. A country`s ethos is determined by how it treats the old, vulnerable and the environment. Come on Mr Boyce, if you are sincere you can mandate the engineer to find a solution. I think you and the DLP needs to remember election around the corner. The DLP is doing everything to be a one term government.


  7. Are these designers and engineers so inept that they could not design a road without cutting down the tree?

    Great engineers strive to make the seemingly impossible possible.


  8. On a patriotic note, anyone notice that Nationnews online has no “Independence day picture or greeting” on the home page?

    They are a Trinidad owned newspaper right?


  9. 1.4 million is TOO MUCH to safe a tree for its incoroporation into the Warrens Design, which I must say would be a lovely picture. But writing off millions to the turf club and then giving away 10 million to defunct CLICO is not too much. What the heck is the government of Barbados thinking. Tell the Pandor man that this is one time we the citizens of Barbados abroad and here will protest this madness with vehemenence if consent is not staved.


  10. We spend millions on ridiculous projects, some of them still lying idle…but we cannot put 3 million into acquiring the land necessary to leave that spiritual and beautiful and very very old tree where it stands. May the spirits of this beauty work their magic…beware! And aware. Sleepless nights for ever? I cannot say how ashamed I am of us.


  11. It would never have happened if Errol Barrow was still with us. His legacy is now well and truly dumped by this government.


  12. We should only be moving the earth to reduce the number of cars in Bim, not to make provision for an increase.

    Road maintenance is more important long term than road expansion.


  13. This SLASH AND BURN mentality tells me what frauds we have in prominent positions. If we as a Nation and a people would willfully destroy a piece of our history without any thought of preservation, and believe that is ok in the name of progress, then we are badly fooling ourselves. This country is exhibiting a callous disregard for its heritage yet trying to fool us that they are protectors of it.


  14. A government that just spend a 0.5 mil in foreign exchange on a team headed to the Commonwealth heads meeting in Aus with absolutely no promise of returns … another 4.0 mil chasing behind Rihanna in South America on “meet and greet” campaigns, again foreign exchange, can’ find it possible to spend local money (printed only for use in Barbados) on preserving a living monument to our connection to the old world… F#ck what a pack of asinine nincompoops …

    Who the hell owns the land anyway? Acquiring the land to build roads around the Warrens area did cost the government a pretty piece as the owners (Ram and wife from India) made them pay, big time. Is this what is happening again? Compulsory acquisition at the rate established by the Tax Dept …. Something not smelling too right …


  15. Why the hell can’t we sue a political party ..? In whose interests are they operating?

    The shape of the ABC highway was determined by special interests (I am told), and I believe it since much of it don’ mek nah sense …!

    Dah round about in front of Simpson’s ITF building don’ mek nah sense …

  16. Pingback: Barbados: Silk Cotton Tree to be Felled · Global Voices


  17. I am sorry BU but I want to cuss so stink you doan even know. It peeves me to the bone the type of shite that does go on in my little island. These friggin manipulators of the truth and big up business persons who have the manipulators of truth in their pockets want burying in bare shite. Everyone here can point to some form of wasteful spending by government. You mean to tell me that a tree this old cannot, in no way, not even remotely possible, have any inclusion in this road work design? What the heck is a few million more to acquire the darn land. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.


  18. We want to have the most modern everything but we want to hang on to relics…as much I care just as much as the next guy about the environment, I acknowledge the price of progress. We have to decide if we want to stay 3rd world or not.


  19. Wendell Walker | December 1, 2011 at 9:57 AM |
    “I acknowledge the price of progress. We have to decide if we want to stay 3rd world or not.”
    Progress and so-called development ought not to be measured by the number of buildings and vehicles on paved roads. It is measured by the development of the people (education and health wise), the way the vulnerable and minorities are treated and the way the environment and animals are looked after. Not concrete jungles and stressed out, unhappy and selfish litterbugs and road hogs passing off as human beings.


  20. @W Walker

    If we were first world (what does it mean anyway?) the planners would have designed the damn road to avoid cutting a tree of historical significance.

    Should Barbadians assume that the planners were not aware of this tree? If they were aware should we assume the callous decision would have been taken without consultation with the Future Trust as an example?


  21. our ” engineers” and authorities have been creating havoc with our landscape for years when planning their projects. an example of the same lack of thinking, sentiment and foresight, is the length of road bay street between London Bourne Towers and traffic lights at Beckles Road which floods every time there is a heavy downpour., reason the canal that used be just to left of the London Bourne Towers, the one at the ares a where the ice factory and gas company were, have been cut off to the sea, so the water settles on bay street until it can find a way to the sea, pedestrians and motorists have nightmares navigating this stretch. Remember that further up that street we have the Hilton, Grand Barbados and the Island Inn, I have seen tourists in the middle of the road wading through water , sandals in hand. Lord protect us from our “planners”


  22. If Government can pump $40,000,000 into a bottomless pit called CBC, and the Finance Minister can “borrow” millions from our NIS Pension Funds, and is recommending that the NIS lends Four Seasons millions of dollars, pray tell me – why can’t they find a paltry $1.4 million to save a silk cotton tree?

    Do they think that planting a couple of trees every Arbor Day is greening Barbados?

    The few saplings that will be planted will be killed off by the exhaust fumes from the many vehicles – especially the public service ones that belch black diesel fumes, which, according to research is worse than those of gasoline ones, especially for the heart – which traverse the area.

    I notice that Mr. Kellman has gone very quiet since he has become a Minister! Who has shut him up?

    We need anti-pollution Legislation asap, and no more long talk!

    The BLP had 14 years to correct the situation, but did nothing about it, so they cannot say a word!

    It is despicable and shows a lack of vision, because the tourists that the Minister of Tourism is wooing will not recommend the island when they get back home because such vehicles which belch smoke like they do here are not allowed on the road, and drivers would not dare to try to do so!

    Both parties need to wake up, and smell the coffee or whatever they feel like, and really put something on the statute books which would really start to green Barbados!

    We have heard the talk long enough, and it is high time they started walking the walk!

    Anthony Davis


  23. Quoting Wendell Walker “We want to have the most modern everything but we want to hang on to relics…We have to decide if we want to stay 3rd world or not.”

    Dear Wendell: The tree at Warrens is NOT a relic. The tree is ALIVE and in VERY GOOD HEALTH. If the engineers do not kill the tree it will be alive long, long, long after both Wendell Walker and his precious car have been reduced to 2 teaspoons of dust and rust.

    The tree has been there for maybe 500 years. If the engineer could not design the road while permitting the tree to remain, he should have refused the contract. The engineer is a Bajan. He cannot deny knowledge of the tree. The tree is possibly the second biggest tree in Barbados. It sits right beside a well travelled pyublic road. Ever Bajan over the age of 6 knows that tree.

    And besides the


  24. cursed to the man who desecrates our heritage. it shows the character of the persons willing to fell the tree. the upgrade could be designed around the tree. it is only in barbados that it shows that no one gives a damn about the poor man nor the environment.


  25. What does it mean to be developed and modern? When Columbus came to the Caribbean over 500 years ago, he found a nation of people called the Tainos.

    ” The word Taino meant “men of the good,” and from most indications the Tainos were good. Coupled to the lush and hospitable islands over millennium, and a half, the indigenous people of “La Taina” developed a culture where the human personality was gentle. Among the Taino at the time of contact, by all accounts, generosity and kindness were dominant values. Among the Taino peoples, as with most indigenous lifeways, the physical culture was geared toward a sustainable interaction with the natural surroundings. The Taino’s culture has been designated as “primitive” by western scholarship, yet it prescribed a lifeway that strove to feed all the people, and a spirituality that respected, in ceremony most of their main animal and food sources, as well as the natural forces like climate, season and weather. The Taino lived respectfully in a bountiful place and so their nature was bountiful. (Jane 1930)”

    From Select Documents Illustrating the Four Voyages of Columbus, translated and edited by Cecil Jane (1930—33).

    Even the Bible in Mark 8:36 warns us ” For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Ironically, it was the Christian Spanish with their thirst for gold that exterminated the gentle Taino.


  26. I’ve seen massive old buildings physically moved at great expense to save them from destruction due to some proposed highway. We saw C.O Williams at Lears , split the roadway to save those old mahogany trees. The ABC Highway near Bussa was slightly diverted during the early days of its planning to save what was then Wonder Bakery, owned by You-know-who. A crossing was made on the ABC Highway on the approach to Waterfords Roundabout to accommodate vehicles from a nearby farm, owned by You-know -who, although a slip road was also made available on the other side of his lands, accessible by circling the roundabout, like every other Tom ,Dick and Harriette. This silk cotton tree could have been in the centre of a roundabout, or the road bisected around it , like at Lears.
    Perhaps if this tree was on the electoral list, its life would be spared, and given a five-yearly visit, by the same people who are now bent on destroying it. But this should not come as a surprise to anyone .We also treat our elderly the same way.


    • Posted to Ian Bourne’s FB page:

      John L Webster
      Update on Warrens Silk Cotton Tree issue

      Earlier today I received a verbal invitation from the MTW, inviting me to the Ceremonial planting of two replacement Silk Cotton trees at 10.00 am tomorrow at Warrens. I was advised that the two trees have already been planted and the ceremony tomorrow is to symbolically place some soil around them. When I asked as to the location of the trees I was told that it is nearer to Jackson, in the general area of the “Sand Box Tree Roundabout”. My concern here is whether the location is truly a suitable one, as these trees get to a massive size over time – just look at the ones in the St Philip’s Parish Church graveyard, the two at Codrington College, and several in the Sandy Lane area. The existing one at Warrens is not representative of the true size these trees attain, as it has been repeatedly hacked back by the utility companies over time, resulting in a very scarred and small ill-shaped crown.


  27. I am more and more appalled every day at this decision. May the Gods and Spirits of that Silk Cotton Tree do what is necessary to those who murder it!! I continue to feel such anger….because I know in my heart of hearts that this could have been avoided. This tree has done and could continue to do so much for the people of Barbados. We are a silly lot to allow its destruction. Destroying green will nevah make us First World…right now I feel we are more like FOURTH WORLD!! *tears*


  28. We can talk till the cows come home, when Pandor and his culprits ready, that tree coming down. Bajans are just talkers and they said “talk cheap”, this will just be a seven day wonder, then we will pass there one day and realise that the tree is down. Both DLP and BLP have been allowed to do as they like for years and we bajans just talk, this will be no different. Time we stop talking and come out and demonstrate, if a group come out to demonstrate, most of the talker will stand at the side of the road and shout their encouragement but few will join. Those who are brave enough will be the ones victimised.


  29. The cutting down of this tree to make way for a paved road and steel vehicles will open the portal for negative energies to emanate from the earth. Don’t be surprised if there is a subsequent spike in sustained challenges to the economy, anti-social behaviour among the youth and further social dislocation and unexplained environmental phenomena and physical degradation. Trees are part of a living interrelated eco-system that is being threatened and it will fight back. Man’s materialism knows no bounds but there is always a price to pay.


  30. What baffles me is that a bunch of vagabonds elected by us, the voters, can ignore us and do permanent damage during their term of office, that will damage this country for years and years to come. We need to let the leaders know how we feel about these things.


  31. As long as David & BU allow me to post my comments,I will continue expose the the evil doings of the menace race,the stinking,killing,disease carrying human white trash Europeans.


  32. …and yet another scourge on this earth…When the cutting of a tree is blamed not on a wrong decision but on the racist remark ‘the stinking, killing, disease carrying human white trash Europeans’, we gotta know this island is in trouble. Shameful.


    • @Rosemary

      Ignore the person making those comments, he is known to BU. One of these days it will stop don’t worry.


  33. @ David

    Is it that someone refuse to acknowledge the significance of these trees. Even when they become diseased and die they are surrounded by mystery. Do you know the more “rebellious” slaves were hung from the tree limbs and left underneath as a reminder?


  34. 3.4 million dollars to save one tree? Wunna mekking bare sport! Wunna think concrete and barber green cheap?
    Wunna think that cow does only eat grass?
    Wunna eva see 3 million dollars growing pon a tree?

    If wunna want de tree suh bad, then raise the 3.4M and see if dem wud guh back to de drawing board nuh.

    I en hearing wunna now.

    Anyhow nuh hard feelings, I looking for your support next year. Remember, every vote counts, even if it is spoilt.


  35. This is from the Nation article published when the issue with the tree first arose:
    “Fri, March 25, 2011 – 6:30 PM
    Barbadians were today assured by Minister of Transport and Works John Boyce that there was never any intention to remove the silk cotton tree from Jackson, St Michael, to facilitate road works…..
    Boyce told the SATURDAY SUN he wanted to dispel rumours that the tree was to be demolished tonight.
    “That is not so, and has never been so. In fact, permission was never even sought to destroy the silk cotton tree,” he said.”
    We now hear that alternative plans were drawn up to save the tree but that they are not economically viable. Clearly the original plan was to take down the tree.
    Did the Minister lie, or did he not know what was happening on his watch?


  36. So much talk, So little action. If you folks really loved the tree you would do what “tree huggers” do in North America. When the logging companies target the old growth forests some people chain themselves to trees or camp out in the canopy to thwart the bulldozers or the chain saws.

    Until I see a picture in the Nation of someone chained to the tree with a sign “BU sent me” I will remain convinced that the long talk is so much hot air.


    • ADDRESS BY MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND WORKS THE HON. JOHN BOYCE
      by Agyeman Kofi on Friday, December 2, 2011 at 6:36pm
      The aforementioned is an address by the Minister  which was preceded by an address by Mia Mottley who expressed her support for the Warrens Development Project and accepted the compromise. Thus the Minister has guaranteed a replanting of trees in the area as well from the Warrens Roundabout to Hothersal Roundabout in conjunction with Heritage Barbados. I have spoken to Soil Conservation Department on harvesting cuttings of this tree to appease the tree spirit. Ownway St John and others such as Vicky Mustor will seek with the help of experts the harvesting of tissue culture from this historical tree. Its very important to minimize the hormonal shock of this tree during removal and the felling of the tree is done in a dignified manner to appease the tree spirit.
      AT TREE DEDICATION EVENT
      JACKSON, ST. MICHAEL
      FRIDAY DECEMBER 2, 2011, 10 A.M
      Invited Guests, representatives of the media, ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome to this tree-dedication ceremony.
      The Ministry of Transport and Works is ever-mindful of the need to preserve our environment and this is reflected in how we manage our major road works programmes where we seek as far as possible to retain trees, particularly where they are of cultural and historical significance.  We are gathered  to dedicate a silk cotton tree, which was recently planted to replace one located not far away which is said to be 174-years-old and which was reportedly brought to the island from Africa.
      Unfortunately, that tree cannot be preserved within the scope of the Warrens Traffic Safety Improvement Project (WTSIP) since it would incur excessive cost.  In fact, if the tree is kept it would cost the Barbados Government as much as one point one four million dollars ($1.14million), along with the cost of related land acquisitions.  Bear in mind that the overall cost of the project now stands at forty-six million dollars ($46 million).
      OPTIONS EXPLORED
      The removal of this tree to provide for three (3) lanes on this leg, two southbound and one northbound, in the Warrens Traffic Safety Improvement Project, was one of four options considered by the project consultants.
      The second option involved retaining the tree and providing one lane in either direction.  The consulting engineers on the project have, however, pointed out that this would result in very inefficient traffic flows and would cause the junction to lock and compromise the entire investment.  This option was rejected because it was the least favourable.

      Another option was keeping the silk cotton tree and providing three lanes, with two southbound and one northbound.  This would, however, result in the killing of a bearded fig tree, another tree which is important to this island’s landscape, as well as the acquisition of an additional strip of land.
      The fourth option was retaining the silk cotton tree and providing four lanes.  This would, however, more than likely necessitate the purchase of a full property as stated earlier.  It would also affect the horizontal alignment of the road, provide for less efficient traffic flows between the roundabouts and also compromise the return on investment.  The acquisition would also delay the project.

      The other tree that will be dedicated this morning is a mahogany, a dark-coloured hardwood favoured in Barbados for crafting furniture.   Earlier this year Bridgetown and the historic Garrison received the enviable designation by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  This accolade will be I am sure a tremendous boost to our tourism product and speaks volumes about how we work to preserve our environment.
      The Ministry of Transport and Works, in association with the Natural Heritage Department, shall put in place a comprehensive landscaping programme for the Warrens area which will help to mitigate any removal of trees occasioned by the Warrens Traffic Safety improvement Project.  In the not too distant future you will therefore see a significant level of greening which would more than compensate for the removal of any vegetation, including the silk cotton tree.  3.
      The landscaping proposal recognises that there were already significant hard surfaces in existence prior to the plan being developed and also that there are still
      many vacant lots.  You will therefore witness as much tree planting along the back edges of the verges as is possible with an emphasis on shade trees.  This will green the area, improve the aesthetics and facilitate more comfortable pedestrian movement.    I must reiterate the adoption at MTW of the  concept…”beyond engineering, we are more than asphalt and concrete.”
      This is also intended to be a part of an ongoing process, whereby all new developments must provide significant landscaping as part of their permissions and as part of the way we work.

      This morning I can announce that in addition to landscaping, there are plans to create what will be known as the “Centennial Pass” in an area close to the centuries-old baobab tree at Warrens. This will serve as a memorial to Barbados’ centenarians.
      Ladies and gentlemen, the green environment and the built environment must complement each other.
      I want to thank those of you who accepted the Ministry’s invitation to interact with us prior to this event today.  We appreciate your valuable information on  the silk cotton species, as well as other species of trees to be found in this island.  Before I conclude, permit me a few minutes to focus your attention on the Warrens Traffic Safety Improvement Project.  It is ahead of the works programme since it started on January 3, 2011 and we are slated to complete the work well within the 36-month contract period.  Motorists are now travelling in a circular, clockwise direction around the NHC Building and there has been positive feedback about this new traffic flow.   I urge motorists to adhere to the traffic directions and pay close attention to the new signs and exit lanes.
      The D’Arcy Scott Roundabout has been reconfigured and is in full operation and I also urge motorists to follow closely the new traffic directions for the area.  The
      4.
      lighting is being installed at this roundabout and has also been installed at the Lodge Hill Roundabout.  We know that Motorists, particularly those using the D’Arcy Roundabout and travelling south from Redman’s Village, have been experiencing some delays but improvements are expected over the next month.  Two lanes will be provided from Redman’s Village to the Everton Weekes Roundabout instead of one as currently exists.  This would significantly improve southbound traffic flows.
      fyi

      I compliment motorists for their patience and co-operation while travelling through the Warren’s area.  You can rest assured that when this project is completed the time taken to negotiate the roads in this commercial district will be significantly reduced.
      Mr.  Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you.


  37. Many bearded fig trees were butchered at Paradise. These trees would have been hundred of years old and would have witnessed history. Is the Four Sessions project suffering from a curse?


  38. @ Judge Dread | December 2, 2011 at 7:03 AM |
    So you have dug right down to the spiritual “root” of this project’s problem.
    The area desecrated was a thriving Amerindian settlement. The springs in the area were used as a source of water for domestic and agricultural use.
    There was also a long standing sacred burial ground for the much revered ancestors. The area subsequently became a sanctuary for the green monkeys brought over with the slaves from West Africa. This project will not thrive unless an atonement for these archeological and cultural sacrilege and environmental destruction is genuinely forthcoming from the perpetrators.

    A similar spiritual fate awaits the Warrens new town if this sacred tree is violated in a similar uncaring fashion.

    Enough said to those shortsighted, materialistic and environmental mercenaries devoid of any spiritual awareness but hiding behind the cloak of religious sanctimoniousness and so called commercial prosperity!


  39. Are you all trying to insinuate that taxpayers are willingly paying politicians each month, and there is a distinct possibility that Ossie Moore would have been a better candidate for the little ministerial pick?


  40. It’s fine to say that 4 options were explored but no-one has explained what the original project plan was. When the Minister said there was no intention to remove the tree, they must have had some idea about what they were doing. What was it and why have we ended up destroying this part of our heritage?


  41. lets see, they destroyed a 200 year old tree, that is almost extinct , to plant more trees (probally American brand)? What a bunch of IDIOTS!! I don’t understand why the mottleys are still pretending to be politicians. While you clowns are at it, knock down the parliment building and rebuild a modern one, knock down the drill hall, codrington college, and the windmill at farley hill also and rebuild. By the way the museum serves no real purpose, because we are destroying the old historical relics to replace with new. WHAT A BUNCH OF CLOWNS YOU POLITICIANS ARE.


  42. Taken from Ian Bournes’s FB page:

    MTW Tree Dedication Ceremony

    MTW Tree Dedication Ceremony. – A Report Yesterday, Friday 2nd December 2011, the Ministry of Transport and Works invited me to what they termed a “Tree Dedication Ceremony” at the Sandbox Tree Roundabout, Jackson, St Michael. As we all know the last week or so in Barbados has been exceptionally wet, with some areas in St Thomas reporting in excess of 15″ of rainfall in the last week alone! Yesterday was no exception as the rain continued in a drizzle steadily from early morning …and perhaps the Tree Spirit had summoned tears …major tears over the fate that will befall one of the older trees that exist in Barbados, as we give way to progress: – the rapidly expanding town/city centre of Warrens that is quickly outstripping its boundaries, leading to Urban sprawl over former sugar cane fields and forcing the Government of Barbados, no matter whether it is the Dee’s or the Bee’s, to be constantly reworking and expanding the existing roadways to accommodate the 1000’s of new vehicles we add to the already choking roadways.

    I arrived at the site shortly before the designated start time of 10.00am to find a small grouping of tents set up just adjacent to to the “Sandbox Tree Roundabout” (currently under construction). There were members of the MTW staff, including of course Ms E. Scott, Senior Information Officer for MTW (the organiser of the event I believe) and Mr Dave Scantlebury, Project Manager for the Warrens Traffic Safety Improvement Project, representatives of both the Contractor (C.O Williams Construction), and the Consulting Engineers of the Project (PESL), members of the press, the Facebook “A” Team – Nicole Garofano (Future Centre Trust), Kammie Holder (aka Agyeman Kofi) (PRO for FCT), and David Spieler (Flower Forest), and a few other persons I do not know. It was a small grouping of about 20 persons. Shortly afterwards the PS for MTW, Mr Lionel Nurse, the Hon. Mia Mottley MP and the Hon. Cynthia Forde MP, arrived followed by the Minister of Transport and Works, the Hon. John Boyce. PS Nurse, Master of Ceremonies for the event, then got things going and invited (Pastor?) Dave Scantlebury to offer a word of prayer.

    After outlining the sequence of events for the “short” ceremony, Mr Nurse invited the Hon Mia Mottley, MP for St Michael North East, to speak. Ms Mottley in her typical style, of speaking from her heart without notes, over the ensuing 20 minutes delivered a most eloquent, candid and informative presentation. She covered various aspects of the area, renewed her call for the establishment of the National Botanical Garden in the 250 acre area at Waterford originally slated for that purpose, thanked the Government and MTW for finally providing the new road into Jackson that had been delayed for some 14 years, and amongst other things, made it clear that the BLP would be standing WITH the DLP Government on this occasion in the issue of the removal of the Silk Cotton Tree since the costs to do otherwise would be very substantial in these difficult economic times – in other words the BLP would not be making a political football out of this issue.

    Ms Mottley’s speech was outstanding and I am hoping that we may be able to transcribe it from a recording taken by one of the Journalists present, and who has promised a copy, so it can be shared with everyone. The next person slated to speak was Dr Karl Watson, President of the Barbados National Trust. Unfortunately, Dr Watson was unable to attend due to a previously arranged commitment, and asked me, in my capacity as a member of the Council of the BNT, to speak on his behalf. I conveyed to the Minister and those gathered there, the President’s message, which, in summary, states that the BNT does not in any way condone the destruction or removal of trees in our landscape, and especially one as aged and historic as this one. However, the BNT is not an organisation that opposes for the sake of opposition, and had carefully considered all the options presented with regard to the tree in question. The BNT had reached the decision that it would really be too costly, in these tough economic times, to save the tree and reroute the roadway. The BNT would therefore not oppose the Government’s decision to remove the tree, provided at least 5 other Silk Cotton trees were planted in appropriate areas. I also advised the Minister that Ms Vicky Goddard, who operates and manages Andromeda Botanical Gardens, a BNT Property, had offered 20 Silk Cotton tree saplings to the project. I also echoed Ms Mottley’s call for the establishment of the National Botanic Garden (NBG), a project very dear to my heart as I chaired the Friends of the NBG Committee, a Government appointed committee from establishment until it’s disbandment in 2008. Minister John Boyce was then invited deliver his address to the audience. Agyeman Kofi (Kammie Holder) has already posted his address verbatim to Facebook – the benefit of a technologically-savy minister who uses an Apple Ipad for the notes of his presentations, rather than a sheaf of papers, so I will not repost or comment further on that.

    At the conclusion of the Minister’s address, PS Nurse invited both the Minister and Ms Mottley to symbolically plant the already planted replacement Silk Cotton Tree, even as the Tree Spirit continued to rain his tears upon the event. The ceremony was brought to a conclusion with a Vote of Thanks from Dave Scantlebury.

    In summary, two trees have been planted near to and just North East of the new Sandbox Roundabout. One is a Silk Cotton – Ceiba pentandra – and the other is “Honduras” Mahogany – Swietenia macrophylla. I would have preferred a true West Indian Mahogany – Swietenia mahagoni – as this has been such an important wood locally, since it was introduced to Barbados in 1763 and first planted at the nearby Belle Plantation. These trees are considered “replacements” for the Silk Cotton tree that has to be removed. They mark the start of a massive “Greening Warrens” Project the MTW has initiated for the area, largely as a result of the considerable protests shown by people of Barbados to the removal of the Silk Cotton tree. These protests sensitised Government and the MTW to the need to adopt the concept of “….beyond engineering we are more than asphalt and concrete”! We may be losing one old and historically significant tree but as the Government strives to make our daily commutes to and from the Warrens area easier and more bearable, at an affordable cost, they have also committed to creating a significantly enhanced greening of the area. It is our task to ensure that this commitment is truly implemented …or else!!!

    By: John L Webster


  43. We should learn by now that our politicians are not interested in preserving anything, and since that they are unable , up to now, to erect statues of themselves then they will continue to construct monuments, or monstrosities , that they and their minions can gape at when out of office and brag that they ‘built that.’


  44. It seems all are agreed the tree should be cut down.

    It seems citizens should accept this because the BLP and DLP are of one accord then the citizens should accept.

    Is it not a passing irony that we have so many other important issues which citizens cry for the two parties to be of one accord to no avail.


  45. David; re. your post above, December 3, 2011 at 10:12 PM;

    It would appear that all the main players in this Warren’s Silk Cotton Tree saga are agreed that the cutting down of the tree is the best pragmatic option for going forward. Perhaps they are right. The BLP can’t possibly agree with what would appear to be the profligate spending of 3.4 million dollars at this time. Could this mark the beginning of Mia and Owen agreeing on something?

    Similarly, the various activists, at UWI, etc., couldn’t reasonably expect Government to spend 3.4 M$ on the tree along with the millions they are getting in their subventions. If it was 1.4 million perhaps a case could have been made but that additional 2 million for purchase of the land was too much. Anyone knows who is the owner and if she could be convinced, through moral suasion, to give the land to the peoples of Barbados?

    However, I hope that the main players are prepared for the kind of retribution of the Silk Cotton God which was and still is feared by peoples throughout the diaspora. I didn’t see in the reports of the December 2nd ceremony that libations were poured, sacrifices made or special songs sung to propitiate the spirits of the tree for its proposed cutting down. However, there is still time to make up for this possible error.

    Just a few examples from Winston and Kofi Small’s book “In search of the sacred Silk Cotton tree” might suffice.

    …. In practically every Island people were generally reluctant to cut down silk-cotton trees as they consider that to do so brings bad luck. There are several stories in many Islands of the people who cut down such trees, or their relatives, dying soon after the act.

    …. former Governor Robinson, around 1885, ordered a silk cotton tree at Government house to be cut down and his wife died shortly thereafter.

    …. one of the early Governors of Barbados, Sir William Tufton, was executed under the famous Justice tree, a silk cotton tree in St Mary’s Graveyard.

    A former Merryman could possibly tell us some more about arguable Silk Cotton tree retribution.

    When the Centennial Park is set up (I like KOfi Ageyman’s original suggestion of “Longevity Park” and all that entailed better) I hope that it will include germplasm from the tree to be removed so that it can be claimed that the original tree lives on, just as the famous tree at Plaza de Armas in Havana, Cuba, that was the site for the first founding of Havana in 1519, lives on. The original tree fell in a hurricane in 1828 and a piece of it was replanted in the same area the same year and still lives on.

    No other silk cotton sapling should suffice. It should be a direct continuance (not even progeny) of the original tree by tissue culture or other means that preserves the original germplasm. Check out the University. I’m certain they can do it.


  46. Barbados has become so political partisan that because the two parties agree on an issue, it is alright with the whole nation. I still think there was a better way out, plus the statement by Min John Boyce, either meant that he didn’t know what was happening, or that he misled the public; either way it shows he is not tottally in charge, we are then left to wonder who is calling the shots, as it is obvious the removal of this tree was always on the cards.


  47. I’m then left to believe that an agreement was made with Ian Burns of REDjet on flying throughout the caribbean, but the Minister didn’t seem to have knowledge of the backlash it would cause. Funny the same country that didn’t want the airline landing there, is now willing to have it based there and it will be granted permition to fly the full route. Barbados can’t prohibit them fyling here, but those bajan employees would lose their little pick to Jamaicans. Are our politicians really in charge of what’s going on or are they puppets on a string of a bigger force?


  48. @ Rosemary Parkinson

    You sound appalled. Why? Don’t you read the contributions from the “Family”?

    David has told you:

    “Ignore the person making those comments, he is known to BU. One of these days it will stop don’t worry.”

    Rosemary, consider the discussion of this member of the Barbados “Underground Family” in their full flower, here:
    http://bajan.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/bajans-right-to-speak-must-be-protected/#comment-154001


  49. They apparently cut it down, roots and all, and took all the pieces away in the dark of last Friday night. The manner of its death must have been fairly awful. I hope the ones ordering and carrying out the act fully appreciate what they have done as well as the possible consequences.


  50. The concreting and tarring of Barbados continues in the name of progress.

    Bajans want modern Highways jus like we got in Canada so de tree had to go.


    • @Hants

      Bear in mind the minister of transport is an engineer.

      Not sure if we have any environmentalists in the government.

      Also of interest is that Mia in her speech indicated that the BLP is onside with the decision.


    • The following was posted to FB by John Webster, He posted pictures as well:

      An OBITUARY

      It is with great sadness that I formally announce the death, by execution, of the centuries old Silk Cotton tree at Warrens. Like a “thief in de night” the executioners moved in under the cover of darkness between 9pm on Friday night, December 9th 2001 and dawn on the following morning, Saturday December 10th, 2011, beheaded her and spirited away her body! The only part remaining on the site on Saturday was her head! There will be no funeral as the body has been unceremoniously spirited away to a location unknown!

      I am shocked and disappointed that Government chose to adopt a guerrilla-type tactic to remove the tree, and frankly feel a sense of betrayal. On Friday I had expressed my desire to the Minister himself to be made aware of the date the tree would be removed so I could photograph its removal for posterity. Yes, I had advised the Minister and stated publicly that I would not oppose its removal, neither would the Barbados National Trust, after being presented with the costs of the available options, but none of us expected such an unceremonious end to the life of the tree. Mr Minister and all others concerned with the removal of the tree, in most situations IT OFTEN NOT WHAT YOU DO, BUT HOW YOU DO IT that really matters. This clearly applies to this situation and I, and many others, consider the handling of the PR in this issue really sucks. My question now is, what has become of the trunk …has it been sliced up and dumped in the landfill or a quarry somewhere. I hope not as a commitment was made by the Minister to preserve the trunk for possible use as part of a memorial later.

      Because of the curse that has been associated in the past with regard to the cutting down of Silk Cotton trees, I can only say that I hope those who gave the final order to remove the tree and those who actually cut it down (the Executioners) found a way to appease the tree spirit before the deed was done, or else both you and your families will reap the consequences!

      On Saturday afternoon, I visited the site to see the situation for myself, confirm that it had in fact been removed and take some photos. All I found on the site was the head of the tree, the top part of the trunk. On examination I discovered that the entire central section of this part of the tree was hollow and diseased. I was not privileged to be allowed to examine the main trunk to see if that was also hollow all the way down. Nevertheless this discovery lends credence to my statement from the beginning that the tree was diseased and not particularly healthy.

      The photos presented here show before and after images, and a closeup of the top section that revealed the entire core (or heart) of the tree was hollow.

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