By Marlon Madden
A new organisation dedicated to conservation and biodiversity protection has mooted the idea of using some of Barbados’ wetlands and landscapes for eco-tourism gains.
Executive Director of The Land Conservancy (TLC) Lani Edghill gave that indication on Thursday as she officially introduced the not-for-profit organisation whose mission is “to protect and enhance precious natural landscapes and watersheds in Barbados to benefit our human and natural communities”.
Suggesting that the landscape and wetlands and their watersheds in Barbados were at risk of disappearing, Edghill insisted that they be protected.
“These areas are undeveloped and we would like to keep them in that pristine manner. Perhaps only small eco-tourism type development in these areas and trails like they would have in other islands in their national parks so that people can enjoy them, and that they are managed and make sure there is no garbage and dumping and that type of thing,” she said, as she singled out the Hackleton’s Cliff landscape.
“Turners Hall Wood is another one in St Andrew, which is also part of the official national park in Barbados, but again the implementation of the management plans is where we need to perhaps work with the Government and assist them,” she added.
Pointing to the increasingly popular Joe’s River and its watershed in the parish of St Joseph, which saw the construction and official opening of a pedestrian bridge at the end of 2020, Edghill said a lot more people have been visiting the area and it could be used as an attraction.
“Ever since COVID, I have noticed so many more people going out into our natural environment and enjoying it and wanting to enjoy it. But I think if we really started to put in some trail networks and manage these areas better as a country, we could benefit economically as well as our tourism product would benefit and our communities could benefit in so many different ways with cottage industries. So the benefits abound and, who knows, Barbados might become the other nature isle of the Caribbean,” she quipped.
Pointing out that the mangrove swamps were critical to the environment and migratory birds, Edghill said she believed Long Pond could be protected in its natural state.
“Mangroves are superheroes in the climate fight because they sequester three to four times more carbon than a regular tree. So, when we are on the world stage talking about climate change and talking about what we are doing in Barbados, we need to protect our mangroves. It is really important that we do that,” said Edghill.
TLC has also proposed the conservation of the Graeme Hall swamp, Chancery Lane swamp, Long Pond and its environs, Green Pond and its environs, The Hole in Holetown and Chapman swamp.
It is also seeking conservation management plans for the Jack in the Box gully and several landscapes and their watersheds, including Hackleton’s Cliff, Turners Hall Wood, Joe’s River, Consett Bay and the Bathsheba stream.
Noting that TLC has been in the making for at least 13 years, Edghill said various working groups have already been established to work towards the protection of those areas.
She explained that while some of the wetlands have been identified as national heritage conservation areas under the Barbados System of Open Space and Parks, as per the Physical Development Plan (PDP), there seemed to be very little will to put the required management plans in place.
“It seems that, for whatever reason, no management plans and actual physical on-the-ground management is happening in these areas, and that is really where the rubber meets the road. So, we have paper plans but we need to put them into action, so that is one of the main things we seek to address,” said Edghill.
She also pointed to what she said was “degradation, chemical and bacterial overloads, physical destruction of habitat, inappropriate disposal and lack of coordinated efforts between stakeholders” related to the wetlands across the island.
The environmental activist said TLC would be seeking to ensure successful conservation practices were employed, by forming strategic partnerships with all stakeholders.
“We envision a Barbados comprising fully functioning land and sea ecosystems, supporting thriving communities of people, plants and wildlife,” she said.
The TLC board comprises President Geoffrey Ramsey, Secretary Georgina Callender, Treasurer Jehroum Wood and board members Andy Armstrong, Dr Sir Trevor Carmichael, Arabelle James-Anglies, Professor Robin Mahon, and Lani Edghill as chair of the Executive Group. [email protected]