Foundation calls for government to purchase historic estatePOSTED: 07/27/12 12:48 PM
St. Maarten – The Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation issued a statement Thursday encouraging the government to continue its efforts to purchase the Emilio Wilson Estate and then establish it as the country’s first land-based protected area and National Park. The foundation “maintains its position that government should not permit the plans for the Rainforest amusement park to continue.” The call is a reply to Rainforest Adventures’ statements in the media. The company is the one behind the proposed development.
“Having met with the Rain Forest Adventures representatives on several occasions, the foundation has come to the conclusion that Rain Forest Adventures is greenwashing its true plans for the Emilio Wilson Estate in order to gain social and political support. The Rain Forest Adventures project/ Rockland Estate Park is not in any way a good example of eco-tourism or eco-activities as the developer is attempting to make the population believe. This project is focused on the commercial, mass exploitation of the Emilio Wilson Estate in the form of an amusement park with no noteworthy conservation initiatives and no genuine regard for the cultural significance of the area and our ancestors who toiled on the estate for generations during slavery,” the foundation states in its release.
“Furthermore the proposed project does not sufficiently provide for educational activities regarding the Emilio Wilson Estate’s history and its importance as a unique aspect of St. Maarten’s, the Dutch Kingdom’s and the Caribbean’s shared heritage. The EWEF condemns Rain Forest Adventures representative Mr. John Dalton’s efforts to mislead the public into believing that Rain Forest Adventures aims to protect St. Maarten’s heritage and create jobs,” the release continues.
The foundation further points out that national parks throughout the world provide ample long-term jobs for residents and cite Aruba’s Arikok Park as an example. That particular park employs over 30 people.
“St. Maarten does not need a foreign company like Rain Forest Adventures to come to the island to dictate how the island’s natural resources should be managed. There are enough St. Maarteners with years of experience in natural resource management. The Daily Herald of Tuesday November 15, 2011 featured a job vacancy for a General Manager at Rain Forest Adventures St. Maarten. The required qualifications read as follows: “University Degree preferably Engineer, minimum 25 years in Park Operations with a background on Ski Lift Installation, Operations and Maintenance”. The foundation wonders if Rain Forest Adventures and John Dalton truly expected to find an engineer on St. Maarten with 25 years of experience in Ski lift installation or if the vacancy was just an elaborate scheme to facilitate Mr. Dalton and his other non-resident colleagues’ attempts to secure residence and working permits,” the foundation states in its release.
“The foundation believes that Rain Forest Adventures’ constant attempts to compare St. Maarten to countries such as Costa Rica and Jamaica, where Rain Forest Adventures has established amusement parks in green areas, are a clear indication of the limited understanding the company has of conservation efforts. Jamaica covers a surface area of some 4, 240 square miles while the Dutch side of St. Maarten covers only 16 square miles. In addition Jamaica has several large protected areas which cover hundreds of square miles. The negative effects on natural resources as a consequence of establishing a Rain Forest Adventures Amusement Park in Jamaica are therefore comparatively much smaller than what they would be for St. Maarten, a much smaller country with no land-based protected areas,” the release continues.
“The Emilio Wilson Estate Foundation urges government to put the interest of the people of St. Maarten above the interest of large foreign companies such as Rain Forest Adventures and their partners Carnival Cruise lines and to purchase, protect and establish the Emilio Wilson Estate as St. Maarten’s first National Park for current and future generations of residents and visitors to enjoy,” the release concludes.