5,000 signatures reached
To: The Honorable House of Assembly of Barbados and the Senate of Barbados.
Petition for the declaration of Graeme Hall Swamp as an OS2 Conservation Area and its management
Noting that the Graeme Hall Swamp:
- Has long been identified by the Government of Barbados and other stakeholders as a unique coastal wetland habitat in need of conservation;
- Is the largest of only four notable coastal wetlands in Barbados (none of which are protected);
- Has been designated as a Ramsar Site under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as waterfowl habitat;
- Has been partially protected by the establishment of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary;
- Should be managed as a single ecosystem using an ecosystem-based management approach as called for in the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity;
- Is threatened by numerous human impacts arising both locally and globally;
- Provides essential ecosystem services and benefits, both monetary and non-monetary that have been, and continue to be diminished by these impacts.
We the undersigned are petitioning the Government of Barbados to make good on decades of promises to conserve and sustainably use this important ecosystem for the benefit of all Barbadians, including future generations by:
- Formally designating the entire ecosystem outlined below as a Conservation Area (OS2 category) under the Barbados System of Open Space and Parks as per the 2003 Physical Development Plan (and the 2017 Draft PDP);
Graeme Hall Swamp, 100-year floodplain and buffer comprise a total of 147.8 acres (59.9 hectares) including 47.29 acres (19.1 hectares) of mangrove forest, sedge ponds, a series of canals, the sewage treatment plant and the sluice gate (the East section of ARA 1997);
- 34.25 acres (13.8 hectares) of the western portion of the swamp owned by Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary (GHNS) that includes a lake, walkways, interpretive builds, two large aviaries, a café, and other ancillary buildings;
- 17.27 acres (7 hectares) of wetland buffer to the west of GHNS;
- 49 acres (20 hectares) of upland watershed agricultural area to the north.
- Changing the land designation of the 50-acre (20 hectares) Upland Watershed Agricultural Area from Predominantly Residential to Food and Agriculture land in the proposed Physical Development Plan, Amended 2017;
- The South Coast Sewage Plant (SCSP) must be upgraded and operated with adequate operating manuals to be strictly adhered to and a water quality monitoring programme must be implemented as part of this project so that as to ensure that there are no leaks into the Graeme Hall Swamp. Also, mitigation measures proposed for the South Coast Water Reclamation Project are not adequate to protect the area. Current plans identify the north-south canal for emergency discharge other mitigation measures will need to be explored such as retention ponds, berms and constructed wetlands.
- Identifying, establishing or promoting the establishment of an appropriate body or mechanism to develop and manage the entire ecosystem according to global best practices for conservation areas by taking a watershed approach that includes the entire watershed including the 50-acre (20 hectares) upland watershed agricultural area the body discussed above (see map at the top);
- Considering the potential role of civil society in leading or forming such a body or mechanism;
- Acting urgently to avoid further degradation and possible irreversible damage to this critical ecosystem.
Why is this important?
Some benefits of declaring the Graeme Hall Wetlands as an OS2 Natural Heritage Conservation Area for Barbadians:
1. Promoting community wellness by creating safe gathering spaces, encouraging social skills in kids and providing multi sensory activities.
2. Providing opportunities for economic development in the community
3. Reduces flooding in the area and naturally filters water and air pollution.
4. Acts as a nursery for fish; improving fish stocks and livelihoods.
5. Conserving biodiverse areas for scientific study 'living laboratory'.
6. Creates a green space in the middle of a busy area that will help people reduce effects of stress, anxiety and mental unrest.
7. Systems thinking - providing a vital link in the ecosystems of the area once reconnected to the ocean.
8. Providing an ecotourism site for Barbadians and visitors to learn about local and migrant bird species and Barbadian ecology on a whole.
9. Creating social equity and improving property values.
10. Improving environmental quality.
**Conventions that Barbados is a signatory to which support and encourage the preservation of GHW are:**
- The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat".
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
- The Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention).
- Specially Protected and Wildlife Protocol to the Cartagena Convention (SPAW Protocol).
- Land Based Sources of Pollution Protocol of the Cartagena Convention (LBS Protocol).
- Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).