Charcoal manufacturer says Bahamians “fully responsible” for illegal harvesting of Pine trees

Charcoal manufacturer says Bahamians “fully responsible” for illegal harvesting of Pine trees

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — “Bahamians are fully responsible” for the deforestation of pine trees on Crown Land in southern New Providence, according to a Bahamian charcoal manufacturer and farmer of more 30 years.

E-Z Lite Native Charcoal owner Godgrey Higgs, whose company processes organic charcoal using specific trees from either cleared land during construction or those that have fallen, told Eyewitness News he believes a much smaller grouping in the Haitian community has sought to process those trees for charcoal.

“Bahamians are fully responsible for that; I mean for what’s going on now,” Higgs said.

E-Z Lite Native Charcoal

“But the Haitians used to do it a long time ago — when I used to report them — on a smaller scale.

“But since they (Bahamians) pushed down all of these 20 acres or 25 acres or more of Pine trees and didn’t replace none, the Haitians are just picking them up.

“When they catch them doing that, put them to the court and send them to jail if you could.

“With me, I don’t cut no trees.

“They (contractors) bring the trees [to me] instead of taking them to the dump.

“If you have to build a house like in Coral Harbour or someplace where a bunch of trees are because I am in the business too of heavy equipment.”

Cease and desist orders have been issued to a number of individuals occupying or using Crown Land without approval, but the government has been challenged to identify those responsible for the illegal clearing of Pine woodlands and areas marked as water tables.

Lincoln Bain, the leader of the Coalition of Independents, has expressed concern about people tearing down trees and then burning them for coal in fields near Barcadi Road, claiming he had caught some individuals “red-handed”.

A screenshot taken from the video posted by Lincoln Bain.

Bain has insisted the culprits are of Haitian descent, though Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe said last week that the around 500 acres of land unlawfully cleared in southern New Providence since July 2021 has been the work of Bahamians.

In a controversial video, in which Bain was seen firing shots into the night as he warned Haitian nationals against cutting down protected trees and burning them, he said: “Haitian daddy, don’t come back hey. You hear me?

“Don’t come back and we serious about that.”

Authorities questioned Bain on the matter and have since seized his semi-automatic shotgun.

Since then, Munroe has warned that transgressors have 14 days to stop their activities as authorities prepare to mount an aggressive operation in the area, a warning Bain has described as an attack on Bahamians, and one that they will stand against.

Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe

Asked if he is aware of the source of the trees that contractors deliver to him, Higgs said he operates with select groups with whom he is aware of their business and the projects on which they work.

He also said his company has been used to clear trees and debris following hurricanes, and those trees have been processed and stored for the coal to mature and crystalize by the ton.

He also said pine trees burned for coal is dangerous to the environment as the trees break up strong winds from hurricanes, consumers and to the protection

Yesterday, Higgs said the government has long been aware of who is responsible and has failed to act.

“They know all the trees was [being] cut down. They know the tractors were just pushing the trees down and the people didn’t have the authorization to go push those trees down.

“You know what’s going to happen to us now.

“They cut all around the boundary, which [acted] as our mountains… to break that hurricane wind and control the flood of water. From they pushed the trees down, now it rains one night and we have flooding — no trees to stop the water.”

E-Z Lite Native Charcoal, which was launched in 2011, has 27 authorized retailers to sell its coal.





About Royston Jones Jr.

Royston Jones Jr. is a senior digital reporter and occasional TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. Since joining Eyewitness News as a digital reporter in 2018, he has done both digital and broadcast reporting, notably providing the electoral analysis for Eyewitness News’ inaugural election night coverage, “Decision Now 2021”.