Is the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary (GHNS) open to the public?

GHNS is not open at this time. It has been deemed unsafe for human contact due to the high levels of dangerous contaminants and sewage by Environmental Experts. The contamination has occurred through several occasions of sewage dumping by the neighbouring property, the South Coast Sewage Plant (SCSP). Please note ALL access to GHNS is restricted at this time which includes other facilities such as the cafe, aviaries, etc.

What are the main threats to GHNS?

The Government of Barbados has exacerbated the problems by continuously failing to maintain and operate the sluice gate diligently and responsibly for many, many years resulting in further damage to the health of the salt-tolerant mangroves and wildlife. The lake is on the verge of falling within the freshwater classification of less than 1 ppt salinity. If the trend continues and the lake becomes a freshwater body it would likely cause the destruction of the mangroves by losing their competitive advantage to freshwater plants.

What is the difference between Graeme Hall Sanctuary, Graeme Hall Swamp and Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary?

The Graeme Hall Sanctuary or Graeme Hall Swamp is an important ecosystem to Barbados and has several unique features. It has the largest body of inland water (12-acre lake) on the island and contains the largest remaining area of red mangrove and white mangrove forest. On April 12, 2006, the Government of Barbados signed the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands of International Importance to become a contracting party. As a contracting party to the convention, it internationally recognizes the 81-acre Graeme Hall Swamp as a RAMSAR site. The contracting parties are encouraged to protect and conserve biological diversity.

The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary is a private property which occupies 42 percent of the Graeme Hall Swamp, a site protected under the RAMSAR Convention. GHNS began with the acquisition of 34.25 acres of wetlands in 1994, followed by a construction of visitor center between 1998 and 2004 and further capital improvements to the property between 2006 and 2008.

Is GHNS a protected area?

GHNS is located within the Graeme Hall Swamp, a site protected under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (the “RAMSAR Convention”). Barbados ratified the RAMSAR Convention on April 12, 2006 and designated Graeme Hall on the List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Barbados’ treatment of the sanctuary is also subject to obligations outlined in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (the “Biodiversity Convention”). Barbados became a party to the Biodiversity Convention on December 10, 1993 and has acknowledged that the Graeme Hall wetlands (including the Sanctuary) are major biodiversity resources for Barbados. Barbados thereby became obligated to integrate, as far as possible, the conservation of the Graeme Hall wetlands into its relevant plans, programmes and policies.

Likewise, in recognition of the environmental sensitivity of the Graeme Hall wetlands, Barbados agreed to maintain the surrounding Graeme Hall green space as an agricultural area and urban open space in its 1988 National Physical Development Plan. Notwithstanding these assurances, in early 2008, the Government of Barbados formally adopted a new National Physical Development Plan. The Amended National Physical Development Plan, which had first been announced in 2003, revoked the previous commitments and legal framework by permitting development of the Graeme Hall green space as the most important ecotourist site on the island.

Finally, the GHNS is also subject to the protections and obligations of, inter alia, the Marine Pollution Control Act, L.R.O. 1998, CAP.392A (the “Pollution Act”) which act has been intentionally unenforced and abused since its enactment.