Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary re-opens for one day only

UPDATED: January 30, 2011

Whew! What a great day at the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary.

Lots of folks, lots of kids and lots of fun. The place was beautiful and you could tell the staff worked hard to get it into shape for the day. I hope this means that something is happening to re-open the sanctuary on a permanent basis for ordinary folks and also because our tourism product desperately needs this attraction on the south coast.

The Nation covered the opening in their story: A day at the Sanctuary

All Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Exhibits and Trails

Open to Public on Saturday, January 29, 2011

Time:  9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

On Saturday, January 29, 2011, all exhibits and interpretive walkways through the mangroves and upland areas at Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary will be open to the public.

This event is for one day only.

The exhibits and trail system have been closed to the public for the past two years.  The exhibits include two walk-in, free flight aviaries that are among the largest in the world, and the network of interpretative trails contain well-researched information about the culture, history and biology of the Graeme Hall Wetland.

Admission on January 29th will be Bds. $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children under 12.

The 35-acre Sanctuary is one of the finest examples of the natural heritage of Barbados and is part of the 81-acre RAMSAR wetland approved under the international Convention on Wetlands.

More information about the Sanctuary can be found at www.graemehall.com

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39 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment, Wildlife

39 responses to “Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary re-opens for one day only

  1. TWWIFOS

    This is good to see, but can anyone tell us why? Strange that it would reopen just for one day.

  2. Paul S.

    I heard they don’t have a large enough staff to take care of the wildlife and visitors at the same time. Doesn’t sound strange at all.

  3. bajandave

    I agree, what’s this all about? I hope that it is the sign of better days coming for the facility.

  4. Responder

    Is there some kind of agenda here?. I would like the owner(s) of the Sanctuary tell us.

  5. Agenda Man

    The agenda. What on earth will happen if a family decides to visit the Sanctuary on that day and experiences one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on the island? And what if they actually begin to care about the place? Will they turn into rabid environmentalists? Yeah, that must be the agenda. Agenda or no agenda I’m going. I haven’t seen the back area mangrove and lake area in years.

  6. Must have been Agenda Man I saw because when I checked, I only saw one care turning into Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. I hope many moe took advantage of the one day event>

  7. I Can Read

    The opening is January 29 and it is worth going. I don’t like the owner but I’m going because I believe in the end it belongs to Barbados and we should protect it. I want my two daughters to see it because they were too young to appreciate it when we went last time.

  8. Worst Caribbean

    Wildlife generally takes care of itself very nicely..
    Wild animals are best left alone

  9. johny d

    lovely place, highly recommended!

  10. what will they think of next

    Why bother?

  11. skinning cuffins

    Someone please tell how mature and civilised society could find inself in a position where one of the only wetlands in Barbados is effectively shut off from the people of Barbados at the discretion of the owners of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctury?

    This is wrong. I grew up in Barbados where when I was a kid my parent could take me to Graeme Hall swamp for fishing and bird watching. I set gumsticks for grass canaries and traps for crayfish. Now I cant do this with my children and am forced to waiting upon the good graces of the owners to allow me, a bajan, to go an connect with nature.

    THE GOVERNMENT OF BARBADOS SHOULD ACQUIRE THIS PROPERTY IMMEDIATELY. THE OWNERS OF THIS PROPERTY HAVE DEMONSTRATED THAT THEY ARE NOT SUFFICIENTLY RESPONSIBLE TO MAINTAIN OWNERSHIP OR CONTROL OF THIS NATIONAL ASSET.

  12. selective memory

    somewhat skinny on the facts are we?

    go to the graemehall.com web site and read the history carefully so you don’t have to make such foolish assertions.

    The Sanctuary has a staff of caretakers looking after it despite it being closed to the public.

    The Government has ignored and abused it for years or didn’t you know?

  13. dawgster

    The owner, Peter Allard, is a strange man given to philanthropic acts. If opening the GHS for one day seems strange, it is consistent….

  14. Nostradamus

    @skinning cuffins
    The larger eastern government owned side of the swamp is still completely open to the public so you can go there and do all the things you did as a boy.
    Why don’t you go there with your children and skin some cuffins and connect with nature among all the garbage strewn all over the place.

    While you are there show them how well the government owned canal and sluice gate is mainted by government.

  15. skinning cuffins

    The swamp was there all those years very good before Allard came along. How come we believe only Allard knows how to maintain the Graeme Hall?

    I say take it from him, acquire it without further delay and lease it some private individual, Barbadian, if possible so that everyone in Barbados can get the peaceful benefits from such a wonderful piece of Barbados’ natural beauty.

  16. Cummins

    Cuffins has a short memory:

    Allard made a formal offer to give the majority of the Sanctuary to government so that the area could be preserved forever as a park.

    Government never replied because they want to develop the area.

    Back when Cuffins was a lad there were 30,000 people living in Barbados. Now there are 280,000. Imagine what the Graeme Hall swamp would be like if every single person came down to take a swampy and grab the last 50 or so tarpon left?

    Cuffins forgets that it is government who still allows the dumping of raw sewage into the swamp. And he wants to fish there?

    Maybe Cuffins didn’t read the scientific summary report on Graeme Hall last year. The wetland is dying. The Barbados Coastal Zone Management Unit knows this, the Minister of Environment knows this, and the scientists at CERMES and UWI know it. But they are all silent. And Cuffins wants to blame the owner of the Sanctuary for all the problems?

    Cuffins likes to think that leasing a national treasure like this is the way to go. Perhaps Cuffins would like to point to a single SUCCESSFUL example in the world where the health of a wetland is foisted entirely upon a private individual without any support from a government? Especially a government that doesn’t lift a finger to enforce its own environmental laws not to mention build a network of true international class parks?

    The fact of the matter is that the only way it works is for a government to step up and set the example, and to respect those citizens who want to have a better life for future generations.

    That won’t happen if government won’t even fix a sluice gate.

    But Cuffins is right on one point. It is a treasure that should belong to the people of Barbados.

    Nobody really cares in Barbados. I don’t like saying it, but it’s true. Just take a look at the Eastern side of the swamp that is totally controlled by the government and people of Barbados. It’s a trash dump. Carcasses of dead swampies all over the place because they get poisoned from time to time.

    The problem isn’t with the Sanctuary. It’s with people like Cuffins who have little successful experience in these matters, and who speak but don’t listen.

    The pathetic irony is that Cuffins probably has a position of influence. It’s too bad.

  17. skinning cuffins

    @ Cummins

    I am not in position to influance the outcome, although as a Barbadian, I wish to God I was.

    On another point, I know the exact issues between the GOB and Allerd, I have seen the correpondence, the problem for Allerd is two fold:-

    (1) Don’t involve yourself in politics when you want to be a conservationist.

    (2) Governments respond to diplomatic overtures, not threats and childish behaviour.

    I am not yet 40. We seemed to have managed our other natural heritage assets very well, the east coast is a perfect example.

    I am going to say THIS because no one else seems willing, as a mature and civilise society we need to be in control of certain national assets, Graeme Hall is one. Peter Allerd has shown (demonstrated), by his actions, that he is prepared to use access (or lack thereof) to this wetland for force GOB into position, for that alone in my book, HE HAS FORFEITED HIS RIGHT TO OWN AND CONTROL THIS ASSET. This is not a political football to be kicked around at the whims and fancies of anyone muchless someone entrusted to own and control such an asset.

    Its not a money issue, the GOB budgeted BDS$1.0 nillion as a subsidy to keep the Santuary open for the benefit of the people. Why didn’t he take it?

  18. Tippycanoe and Tyler too

    The GOB announced in the papers that they budgeted 1 mil for the sanctuary, but guess what? Other than saying it in the papers, they never really did it.

    Typical for Bim,

  19. Adrian Loveridge

    Over 20 of our guests visited Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary today.
    Every single one of them returned to the hotel raving about how beautiful the facility was and that it was a national, if not a regional asset. They cannot understand the reasons behind why it is normally not open to the public.
    As a tourism driven nation, I find it almost impossible to explain.
    Put politics aside and let sense prevail.

  20. skinning cuffins

    @ Adrian

    I took my family today too, a beautiful day out with my kids. How do I explain to my 9 year old when he asks “Daddy does The Man not allow it to be open all the time?”

    It is a tragedy this place allow to be kept from the wide society. What is the benefit of such a treasure, if the people cannot get to interact with the natural environment? People get immense benefits from interacting with nature, you just have to look at the kids running, playing and just being kids. I say to keep this place closed for from society is equvilent to someone trying to make a beach in Barbados. A petition should be launched to forcce GOB to ensure the place is open to the public via the present owner or they should acquire it immediately.

  21. Adrian Loveridge

    skinning cuffins,
    I agree so much.
    How are we ever going to educate the next policymaking generation
    of the importance of projects like this if we cannot sort out whatever the problems are.
    MANY of our guests from previous visits have sent emails voicing their concerns about the closure of GH to the Minister of Tourism and I have yet to find ONE that has received a response.

  22. Green Monkey

    MANY of our guests from previous visits have sent emails voicing their concerns about the closure of GH to the Minister of Tourism and I have yet to find ONE that has received a response.

    And is anyone really surprised at that. I would be much more surprised if a substantial number of them did get a response or some acknowledgment from the Minister. Maybe the Minister, being an honourable gentleman, just doesn’t want to have to lie to the emailers by telling them their concerns are under consideration and that steps are being taken to have the situation resolved, so he finds the easiest course of action is to ignore their emailed pleas altogether and just hit the delete button.

  23. 78

    What took all the staff and running costs was the two aviaries, not so?
    Presumably the birds are all gone now, to decent homes?

    The basic infrastructure Allard et al. laid down was a well-structured boardwalk
    and delightful gardens.

    OK I understand the gardens may now be a bit tacky and overgrown, given no staff to maintain them(?)
    but the boardwalk walkabout feature could be left open, so ppl could go take a look
    -or would the paros move in and destroy everything?
    ..the way some subhuman psychotic/s visits the South Coast boardwalk during wee morning hrs.
    presumably all coked up to the max, to vent his antisocial furies on signage, coconut trees, rocks from the constructed beachside garden beds,etc.(personal observation)

  24. johny d

    People seem surprised that it isnt open all year round and that it should be taken from Mr. Allerd, but before he developed it , most of us didn’t really care that much about it.
    As far as I know he has be very generous in developing and maintaining the area. I believe he wishes it to be open to the public year round, but has to make a stand to our greedy goverment in order to protect it.

  25. skinning cuffins

    @ johny d

    Are you serious with those foolish comments above? As a kid, I cared about it, I treasured it and most of all I along with many many other enjoyed it.

    Mr. Allerd has to make a stand in order to protect it? So what will happen when some rich person in Barbados decides he wants to make a stand against some government policy and decides to block a beach or put up a private beach sign, what do we do then?

    This kind of heavy hand behavious by Allerd cannot and must not be allowed to continue, it sets a bad precedent. His behaviour, irrespective of his cause, is reprehensible and should NOT be accepted by right thinking member of this society.

  26. John

    Anonymous

    I saw alot of birds there both free and in the aviaries, plenty fish in the water too.

    The grounds were immaculate and children were enjoying themselves rolling on the lawn by the lake that would match any golfing green.

    It remains a green oasis in a grey and black concrete and asphalt area, one where it is possible just to sit and enjoy the peace, insulated from the madness of Highway 7.

  27. Duppy Lizard

    @ skinning cuffins
    Why are you posting comments on a situation when you obviously do not have all the facts? Suffice to say that had not Peter Allard purchased the property it would have been sold off as “lake front property for condos”, or even worse drained and developed. While many may dislike Peter Allard, he spent millions of dollars and created a treasure for Barbados, and all for naught…

  28. BFP

    Hello skinning cuffins,

    So you think that GHNS should be acquired (expropriated) by the Government of Barbados? What price should be paid? Should Allard be given a fair price reflective of everything he put into it and reflective of the true value?

    Or should the GoB steal it for a fraction of what it’s worth, and then allow friends of government to develop the lands immediately adjacent to the GHNS so the politicians can make big bucks and stash the money offshore?

    Or should the GoB drain the swamp, destroy the natural area and develop it as a bunch of expensive condos?

    Should Barbados pluck another sorry foreigner and then send him on his way at a loss as happens to so many?

    You want the GHNS for the “people” but how much are you willing to pay for it?

    Hell, Thompson government gave $20 million as a gift to the horse racers without acquiring anything. Why is it so difficult for the Government to find the money to fix the sluice gate? Answer: because they want it destroyed and not fixing the sluice gate is doing a fine job of that.

  29. Straight talk

    “Hell, Thompson government gave $20 million as a gift to the horse racers ”

    Thompson did not give them a gift, he allowed them to charge, and collect from, the public a statutory tax, and then fail to remit it to Customs & Excise.

    He legalised this fraud, a very serious precedent.

  30. skinning cuffins

    @BFP

    Why do you assume it would have to be compulsory acquired (expropriated) rather than a acquisition by private treaty?

    Even gold has a price, remember this. I don’t see that the GHBS prepresents sufficient challenge that the value cannot be determined by the GOB using locals professionals.

    All the years before Allerd came along, the swamp was never drained and the lands developed so why is that a threat now, according to you?

    Is the GOB in the habit of plucking foreigners and stealing their land? You really wrote some ignorance above. I do note that foreigners (your word) dont mind using the word (foreigner) when it suits them but God forbid it should be used against them by locals.

    If Allerd keeps the place closed to the detriment of the wider society then eventually the GOB will acquire and will have every good reason so to do.

  31. just looking

    Me and the wifey also visited the place and it was my first visit.I have to say,it was awesome and much better than i imagined.Te way the place is kept and to think there is such a plce right there on highway 7 and being in there and away from the noise is incredible.A truly good experience for em and looking forward to going back in the future if permitted.

  32. Cummins

    @Cuffins

    I think you’ve got far more influence than you care to admit. It is clear that you love this country.

    I wish you would explain what you meant by a “private treaty.”

    My earlier comments about the failings of government stand and I wish you would address them. In any case these are problems that will be fatal to the entire wetland regardless of the ultimate legal disposition of the Sanctuary.

    You asked how it happened that Bajans are excluded from their own natural treasure. The short answer is that we did it to ourselves. While I was at the Sanctuary yesterday I was reflecting on how the Sanctuary came to be. The Special Areas Development Act encouraged its development, but the underlying policy in government was that environmental preservation would be “out-sourced” to a developer like Allerd. It is a dangerous policy because the goals of development and environmental/biodiversity preservation are often incompatible.

    Either way, government is on the hook to do its part. I don’t know if you are aware, but the graemehall.com site has information showing that all the lands around the wetland will be developed, contrary to the original Physical Development Plan that recommended a major park on these same lands all the way up to the ABC Highway. It’s just wrong. My family would like to see a real park down the road because when this recession is over we as a nation are going to start building again and we need to pay attention to things like this.

    The other thing is that you and I are faced with a huge irony. Allerd showed up, we sold a major part of our national heritage to him, and he built a sanctuary. We really didn’t have strong feelings about the swamp 15 years ago, it was just a swamp. But now we love the Sanctuary and want it for ourselves without foreign interference.

    Is there a lesson here?

  33. Dame Billie Miller

    Give credit where credit is due.

    The property where the sanctuary is situate was privately owned and was for sale for many years as lakefront property.

    Despite lots of opposition from other departments, bureaucrats and cabinet ministers it was only the then Minister of Tourism Dame Billie Miller and her PS, Lionel Weekes who pushed for Mr Allard to work with the Environmental Impact Team to come up with a joint plan to protect the whole mangrove area with appropriate buffers.

    Unfortuneately the government owned eastern side was never acted on by government to implement the mangroves watershed as a whole.

    If it wasn’t for Dame Billie Miller’s pro active prodding and vision of what could be, then the existing sanctuary part would never have been allowed too be completed by Town and Country.

    Those many thousands of school children, Barbadians and tourists who have gone through the Sanctuary owe a big thank-you to Dame Billie Miller and her associates.

  34. skinning cuffins

    @ Cummins

    The extent of my influance is that I never loose an opportunity to preach those in change positions to make sure we always strive to build a more just society.

    I do love my Country, I would not exchange it for the world, that why, this GHBS issue has me agitated. I have read alot on the matter so I am not skackled by what either party puts out into the public domain in an attempt to try and influance their side of the issue.

    I am also patently aware of the changes to zoning in the 2003 National Physical Development Plan as it relates to the surrounding graeme Hall Plantation and lands. This can be overcome quite easily mutual respect between GOB and GHBS unfortuantely this has not taken place.

    The fundamental problem for Mr. Allerd is he has gone about his cause in the wrong way and as a result the people of Barbados and tourist are left to suffer. What exactly is the point of opening the Sanctuary for one day, think about it. I addressed my mind to it yesterday while walking through the GHBS and could come up with nothing other than Mr. Allerd is using the very restrictive access to create a ground swell of opposition against the GOB because after all, its the GOB who is responsible for its closure or so GHBS would ahve you believe.

    I would be keen to know how many Barbadians and tourist think that Mr. Allerd is acting responsible by closing the Sanctuary as a part of his negotiating stratedgy with the GOB.

    There is a lesson here, we should NOT allow anyone, foreign or local to play games with National assets without serious consequences.

  35. John

    There is a lesson here, we should NOT allow anyone, foreign or local to play games with National assets without serious consequences.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Was the Graeme Hall swamp a National Asset before Peter Allard came along?

    I can’t recall as a boy being pointed to the swamp and told …. this is a National Asset.

  36. John

    As a boy I would more have thought of agricultural land as a national Asset …. like Todds and Westmoreland

    … or of businesses like Plantations Ltd. or Cotton Factory or BS&T

    … or newspapers like the Advocate

    … and as I grew up other valuable businesses like BNB or ICBL.

    I cannot honestly say that I would have thought of the swamp as a national asset.

    I sure do appreciate what the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctury has become.

  37. johny d

    so is mr. allerd suppose to keep the sanctuary open while the goverment tries to develop the surrounding lands? i agree it should be open for the public, but some communication must be made in order for this to happen
    i believe every barbadian wants this, so instead of pointing fingers, i hope we somehow find a way to settle this

  38. Inside Outsider

    skinning cuffins makes it sound like Alerd woke up one day and decided to pout act like a little boy and cut off the public from the swamp and wildlife.

    Truth is at the beginning 20 years ago he had the enthusiastic support of the Barbados government and did his homework and saw that the laws and planning was in place for the long term protection of the project he was contemplating. He then spent 20 or 30 million dollars making a nature sanctuary for Barbados. It was not a profit making venture, it was a philanthropic project like Alerd does all over the world.

    When it was finished the local land developers said “thanks for making the area so beautiful and desirable it was an old swamp and garbage dump before you arrived.” Then the developers pushed the government to change the law and the land use plan to remove the protections and they were successful. When Alerd complained to the government, they punished him by not maintaining the sluice gate and started to kill the swamp. To help it along they pumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into the swamp on more than a few times.

    Allerd spent years “negotiating” with the government like a fool he didn’t realize how small a place Barbados is. He paid for public employees to go abroad for training on sluice gates and ecology courses and offered to pay for a new sluice gate and ongoing maintenance but it was all a big joke on Alard. He didn’t realize he was being plucked like a chicken by the best most experienced chicken pluckers that being the Bajan politician.

    When he found he was lied to at every turn and being strung along he decided that he had been strung along from the very first and that was probably true. You know how so many sorry investors and business people leave Bim with their tail between their legs after they have been sucked dry.

    Alerd was lied to by the government of Barbados and like any philanthropist who has been lied to and seen his money ripped off, he probably realized he would have give up eventually so he did and he shut the place. He probably has hope that some day some government or the people will realize the national treasure that he preserved in the face of the big shot developer friends of government.

    Probably the worst thing Alerd could do to punish Barbados would be to sign over the nature sanctuary to the politicians for free.

    Because then that national treasure would be gone and turned into profits stuck in Swiss banks just like the hundreds of millions put there over the years by Barbados politicians and their developer friends. You think they keep that money here in Bajan dollars? Cha! Don’t talk so foolish.

  39. skinning cuffins

    @ Inside Outside (aka Peter Allerd)

    Why did BFP move is article and its blogs off the website? Maybe its because BFP has very close connections to Mr. Peter Allerd?

    @ John

    It was always an asset, not necessarily in the same configuration as it is now but an asset never the less.

    @ John D

    Provide one piece of credible evidence that the GOB is trying develop the surrounding lands, just one please.