Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary (Part 1) – A Barbados National Treasure… But For How Much Longer?


Thanks to years of effort by some dedicated key individuals in and out of Government, the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary exists as a gateway and a guardian to the largest, and now the last remaining, healthy mangrove swamp on Barbados. This internationally recognized natural treasure has almost been lost many times in the past – to neglect, greed and development pressures.

But the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary only takes in 33 hectares, a small portion of the larger Graeme Hall mangrove swamp and wetlands. The battle to recover and preserve this important natural ecosystem continues between those who seek a sustainable future for Barbados and others who only have a selfish desire to convert one of the Caribbean's premier natural heritage sites into quick money.

Which vision will win out?

Do the Government and the people of Barbados have the long-term national will to preserve this treasure… or will they sell out their children's environmental and economic future for short term interests? (And yes, the economic future of Barbados is very dependent upon a sustainable and healthy environment.)

In this first article of a three-part series on the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary, Barbados Free Press looks at the recent designation of Graeme Hall Swamp as a "Wetland of International Importance" under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Part 2 will look at the important role that wetlands play in a healthy ecological system and the direct relationship with the Barbados economy, while Part 3 will focus on the history and future of the Graeme Hall mangrove swamp and wetlands.


Congratulations & Thanks to Environment Minister Liz Thompson

Yes, you read that correctly. Although we have been critical of Environment Minister Elizabeth Thompson, we will give her a tip of the hat for her work to date in helping to achieve the Ramsar designation for a part of Graeme Hall mangrove swamp…

On April 12, 2006, 33 hectares of the Graeme Hall Swamp in Barbados was officially designated a "Wetland of International Importance" under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. This is a large step forward for the Barbados Government as they move toward sustainable development and improved water quality by the wise use and management of important wetlands sites such as Graeme Hall.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 151 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1593 wetland sites, totaling 134.7 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Ramsar Designation Was Not An Easy Task For Minister Thompson

On February 2, 2006, the first World Wetlands Day ever celebrated in Barbados, Environment Minister Thompson made a passionate speech at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary in support of a Ramsar designation. We have heard that the Minister and her staff worked hard to convince the Government to take this important step, and that success was not easily achieved – with some members of the government resisting. So once again, thanks to Minister Thompson and her staff for not giving up.

Two months later, on April 12, 2006, the Convention on Wetlands came into force for Barbados and part of the Graeme Hall Swamp was declared a "Wetland of International Importance".

Next in This Series: Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary (Part 2) – Barbados Needs Wetlands

Links for this series

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Website)

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Barbados Data)

Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary (Website)

News Articles…

Nation News "Special Place For Swamp" December 18, 2005

Photos borrowed from the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Photo Gallery (but somehow, I don't think they will complain.) 


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment, Island Life, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism

7 responses to “Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary (Part 1) – A Barbados National Treasure… But For How Much Longer?

  1. ross

    Has the sewage main burst AGAIN? Has the raw sewage gone into the Swamp AGAIN?

  2. John

    I know Ross. It hurt my heart. I am ashamed as a Bajan that such a thing could happen.

    I could not believe my ears when I was told, and by impeccable sources.

    To imagine all the sewage from the south coast being pumped into the swamp for however many days the burst remained at Rendevous junction is appalling.

    It is good that BWA worked so quickly to fix the problem. We may cuss them over burst pipes and blame them for water outages but it is time we woke up and understood the critical role water plays in Barbados. Water is of strategic long term importance and the major problems rest with our leaders’ strategic vision, not the tactical resources at BWA.

    The sanctuary must have been affected but imagine what happened to the sea bathers. The picture says it all. At least the beaches were closed for a short while and people warned not to venture into the sea. Most sea bathers are our guests.

    At least on the South Coast there is a sewage system. There is none on the West Coast. Worst thing is that the coral nature of our island makes our drinking water susceptibe as well inland.

    Tourism and construction as practiced now are just two rickety planks on which a whole country’s economy is based. They are both unsustainable.

    Where there is no vision …..

  3. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Barbados: Future of the wetlands

  4. Pingback: Barbados Free Press » Blog Archive » Barbados Water Park Battle On The Horizon - Graeme Hall Wetlands In Danger

  5. Shanice

    i luz graem,whjhghg

  6. Straight talk

    Aforismo, I totally agree.
    These questions must be addressed.
    P.S. What were they again?