The environmental focus of the Apes Hill development has come in for high praise from officials at the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage.
In fact, Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe, has described the development, which incorporates and encourages biodiversity and a green landscape, as an example of how land could be used to meet its objectives, while still protecting the environment.
He made these comments during a tour of the 780 acre St. Thomas facility with business magnate, Sir Charles Williams, ministry officials including Permanent Secretary, Edison Alleyne, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Daphne Kellman, and members of the media.
The Apes Hill golf course was recently rated as one of the best in the world, and also gained international recognition as a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary for its environmental and wildlife preservation efforts. It is now recognised as one of the two per cent of golf courses across the world to receive such certification.
“If the objective is the harvesting of foreign exchange then you are doing it here. What interests me and the Ministry of the Environment the most, is that whatever the final product is … it works towards the preservation of our environment and the advancement of our environment,” he said.
Noting that he was concerned about the disappearance of birds and other species like the green lizard and butterflies, Lowe pledged his support for developments such as Apes Hill which he said could ensure that important “dwellers” had a place to live and move again.
He added that it was also important to address issues of water quality management and the alternative generation of energy for water.
“I know you have a great system up here in terms of the harvesting and usage of water, [and] the management of waste,” the minister noted.
He stressed that any system which helped the ministry to push the kind of development thinking and practices that allowed the country to move not only in terms of its economy, but helped to move its environment, was welcomed.
Lowe told those present that Government fully understood the fact that sustainable development was not only about economic development or using land in its traditional form.
“For Barbados, it is about economic viability, it is about social balance, it is about good governance and it is about environmental sustainability,” he said.
He explained that after the mechanisation of the sugar industry, there was the general perception that lands like Apes Hill and Dunscombe, and other parts of St. Andrew and St. Thomas, would be lost to forestry.
But, he pointed out, that was not the case. The minister said there will always be conversations about how land should and should not be used.
However, he noted that Government would continue to act in the best interest of Barbados when it came to land use.
Meanwhile, Sir Charles told members of the media that it took 10 years for Apes Hill to reach its present level.
“I am happy to do it. We looked at providing the grass, providing the flowers and fauna for this site,” he said.
He added that all the plants, grass and flowers at Apes Hill were grown in St. Lucy on his property.