Government And Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary – We Can All Work Together For Barbados

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Here at Barbados Free Press, we sometimes become so wrapped up in criticizing the government’s mistakes, actions and omissions, that we neglect to make note of the many positive efforts and achievements by government folks and by well-executed joint government & private sector projects. That’s our fault and we promise to try and maintain a more positive and balanced outlook in 2007.

Our mea culpa is a result of our receiving the following letter from the Friends Of Graeme Hall, concerning a visit by Health Authorities to the Graeme Hall Swamp. We missed the newspaper article that the letter speaks about, but from the sound of the letter, some very knowledgable people at the Ministry of Health and the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary are working together for the common good of all Bajans.

Graeme Hall National Park Would Be A Legacy We Could All Be Proud Of

The letter from the Friends Of Graeme Hall again reminds us about how little this island is, and how we must all work together to ensure that Barbados remains a good place to live, work and visit in the future. Aside from the environmental benefits of creating a National Park at Graeme Hall, a well done national park would be a showpiece legacy that would distinguish Barbados from a host of other sand/sun/sea destinations.

We know that there is much support for Graeme Hall National Park by the public and also within the government. With a little work, and some funding (which the Friends of Graeme Hall say is possible from the private sector), perhaps 2007 could be the year that sees the formal establishment of a national treasure that will still be appreciated hundreds of years from now.

There are worse legacies for any person to leave behind than to say they had a part in creating Graeme Hall National Park.


26 December 2006

No. 3 Warners Terrace
Christ Church

The Editor
Barbados Free Press

Dear Sir,

In a page three story in the Saturday December 03 issue of The Nation Newspaper reporting on the visit by health officials to The Graeme Hall Swamp to look at ways to reduce the presence of the Anopheles mosquito, officials were quoted as saying that they “are calling on the other partners in Government and the private sector to work together to resolve the issues raised including that the appropriate levels of water are maintained”.

The Friends of Graeme Hall, as well as biologists, engineers and various members of government believe the long term solution for drainage and mosquito control in the Graeme Hall wetland must go beyond simple repair or relocation of the Sluice Gate, and be an engineered solution for the entire Graeme Hall area.

Furthermore, the Friends of Graeme Hall urge the Government of Barbados to consider that the solutions for Graeme Hall can be financed and engineered as part of the development of Graeme Hall National Park, and stand ready to assist Government finance these objectives.

The Graeme Hall National Park Initiative (www.graemehallnationalpark.org) proposes a four point technical approach, combined with public/private funding mechanisms. The primary basis for these solutions incorporate the most comprehensive environmental, health and economic study that has ever been done for the Graeme Hall natural area, namely the US$800,000 Inter-American Development Bank financed 1998 ARA Study, Subprogramme C, which is embodied in the http://www.graemehallnationalpark.org site.

The civil engineering solutions for the Graeme Hall area to improve the health and welfare of the natural lands and neighborhoods around it would include specific direction from the ARA Study, and the following:

* The entire proposed 240-acre National Park area at Graeme Hall should utilize assistance from professional consultants who are familiar with multi-use, tropical wetland management systems.

* The entire area proposed as the Graeme Hall National Park should have a master detention/retention drainage plan that maximizes percolation of drainage water, to substantially reduce or eliminate contaminated storm water onto Worthing Beach when it rains.

* The existing Sluice Gate should be abandoned, and a new, preferably passive, weir system put in place to control water levels, similar in scope to Stormwater Treatment Areas within the South Florida Water Management System in the United States.

* Provision for an alternate South Coast Sewage Facility emergency sewage discharge should be engineered to replace the current emergency outfall that empties into the Sluice Gate Canal.

To control mosquitoes, the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary and the Ministry of Health have had a very progressive relationship over the years. The mission and objectives of both the Sanctuary and the Ministry are exactly the same: Maintaining clear canal channels and optimum water levels prevents stagnation, and promotes healthy fish populations which control mosquito larvae.

Both the Ministry of Health and the Sanctuary have relied upon one another to ensure healthy fish conditions to control mosquito infestations naturally and in fact there have been no major insecticide spray operations in the Western Swamp area in nearly 5 years as a result of this holistic approach.

However, when water levels in the Swamp get too low, such as when the Sluice Gate is not operated properly, canals tend to dry up and “pool” stagnant ponds, which kill fish and increase mosquito larvae.

We believe that if the relevant authorities embrace the recommendations summarised above and detailed in the reference guide for The Graeme Hall National Park at http://www.graemehallnationalpark.org, this private/public partnership can meet the objectives mentioned by the government officials in (the story in The Nation News).

Together we can protect the health of citizens and visitors while preserving the last green space between Bridgetown and the Airport, the last remaining mangrove forest, the last major wetland, the largest inland lake, and the most concentrated biodiversity in the island.

Sincerely,

Allan Marshall
Friends of Graeme Hall Committee

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11 Comments

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

11 responses to “Government And Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary – We Can All Work Together For Barbados

  1. Good to hear Friends of Graeme Hall committee is working successfully in harmony with Government agencies to promote the cause of Graeme Hall National Park.

    While the saying is “No news is good news,” I for one was wondering how things were going.

    Most everyone seems to support this initiative, and the Committee can rely on widespread support whenever they need it. This is encouraging news with which to end 2006.
    My prayers are with you for continued success during the coming year.

  2. Stuart Heaslet

    The Ministry of Health (Oistins and elsewhere) has highly professional inspectors and technicians who have been quietly working the Graeme Hall wetlands for years in cooperation with the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. The public health objectives are exactly the same for the Minstry and the Sanctuary, and this fact makes for an extraordinary working relationship.

    The formula to control mosquito populations is straightforward: Ministry of Health personnel share their observations, in real time, with Harry Roberts at the Sanctuary. This in turn helps direct Sanctuary labour and equipment to clear the affected canals or ponds so that water can flow, thereby reducing or eliminating stagnate water. Given the stakes, Roberts moves fast on these projects – they are often addressed the same day of the reports.

    Water levels play into this as well, because if water levels get too low, canals become very shallow, attracting birds to eat the fish trapped in the shallow water – and with fewer fish, mosquito larvae populations grow.

    The Ministry of Health inspectors and their colleagues at the Oistins office, along with the professional Sanctuary labour crews who maintain the affected areas, deserve high praise for their tough, physically challenging work.

  3. Environmentalist

    Good to hear that this citizens group and private/public sector are working together. Hopefully the proposed National Park can become a reality in 2007.

    Good luck to all!

  4. Carson C.Cadogan

    Oh boy, here we go again!

  5. Environmentalist

    Carson, arev you against the proposal for a National Park at Graeme Hall?

  6. Carson C. Cadogan

    I am for the Waterpark.

  7. Bajan George

    I am for the Waterpark too, but not at Graeme Hall.

  8. reality check

    thanks for your input Carson—looks like from the website over 4000 and maybe by now 5000 citizens have already signed a petition in favour of the National Park including many school students who have gone through Graeme Hall over the years. Guess we can put you down as a No.

  9. Environmentalist

    Carson, I respect your preference for the waterpark. However, do you not think that a more suitable location could be found which would not endanger the sensitive wetlands below the proposed waterpark location?

    Also dont you think it is a good idea to preserve green areas and the protect the environment? The waterpark could be located in another more suitable location. My ubderstanding is that the National proponents are not against the waterpark, just the proposed location.

    Have you ever been to the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary?

  10. Friendly Friend

    Reality Check, The majority of national park petition signatures are by adults. Around 4000 signatures as of early December.

  11. reality check

    Thanks for the clarification. It wasn’t so much a comment relating to demographics but a comment relating to the depth and importance of this critical green area and space for all Barbadians—especially those that have bothered to visit the area and really know their country!!!

    Good work Friends of Graeme Hall!!!

    maybe you can post the increasing numbers signing the petition every week or two on your site