Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary – who’s REALLY hurting from the closure?
It has been almost a year and a month since Graeme Hall closed its doors to the public. Since then Government (regardless of Party) has not flinched to any pressure from Facebook, Barbados Free Press nor here at this website…
Decided a first-hand investigation was called for since the first year passed without a whimper, and contacted relevant GHNS officials to secure permission for a visit. Learned the eight skeleton staff tackle one segment per day of the potential National Park leaving the other seven areas to be handled one at a time down the week.
The worst we found was the horrific stench like raw sewerage which is expected as the sluice no longer works. Next sign of semi-disrepair were crabs digging holes at the side of paths which are barely cleared since there’s no one to walk along these paths and see so much now.
There were some cobwebs by the Bird Observation slats, and then there was the man-made pond which is filled manually so it is a huge and expensive task using much water and we already know what challenges those present…
There were nevertheless a number of issues which plagued the conscience from both sides and so I decided to contact my GHNS source and probe again;-
The place is not as dilapidated as expected, which has led me to other questions – what is the daily and monthly cost of maintaining the Sanctuary?
Since it is clear Government is not reacting to Graeme Hall’s closure – is the shutdown hurting GHNS more than Government itself? There’s no elections to stir any rudimentary conscience on their part, and soon Barbadians themselves will lose interest.
Perhaps if it kept open and run despite Govt’s lack of support – but place it for sale on condition it is bought and kept as a Sanctuary? Many Bajans now tend to feel both sides are spiting each other…
The response while carefully meditated nevertheless did not deal with all of my concerns, and so I leave it for you to discern;-
We note your suggestions, but believe that we must focus on multi-generational solutions at Graeme Hall.
Ian, the bottom line is that the Sanctuary and the surrounding lands contain the last environmental legacy of its kind in Barbados. There is a powerful sense that the Sanctuary and the area around it should belong to the people in perpetuity. Selling it to a private or commercial buyer would not necessarily solve the dilemma of ownership, as the natural self-interest of a private buyer would be to develop it to the detriment of the Graeme Hall wetland and its natural environs. Graeme Hall deserves to have the perpetual protections that only government and law can give.
As an example, would it be appropriate to sell the actual property of a premier environmental treasure such as Harrison’s Cave to a private or foreign commercial or private entity?
It’s common protocol for a nation to own its natural treasures. Harrison’s Cave and Barbados National Parks. Provincial Parks in Canada. National Parks in the US. The private companies that provide contract services in these parks come and go, but the Parks themselves belong to the people. And governments rightly direct and manage the environmental preservation and protections for these Parks.
It’s a worthy goal, and we will sustain our support for this goal as long as humanly possible.
In the meantime, the Sanctuary is open for special group events that are contained primarily to the main Group Area by the lake. These help offset the costs of for the core maintenance of the facility, and we are able to control costs more easily. We don’t have plans to open to the general public at this point, as that requires a substantial re-investment in support personnel and maintenance services beyond the Group Area. We are down to 8 employees.