Ministry of Agriculture responds to Wallings Nature Reserve controversy

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Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s Marketing Communications Manager, Maria Blackman presents Wallings Nature Reserve Executive Director Refica Attwood with her Leading Light Award (Photo Courtesy, The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority)

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Barbuda Affairs (MAFBA) seeks to correct the public record regarding the operations and management of the Wallings Forest in response to claims made on the media by Wallings Nature Reserve (WNR).

It is the objective of the Ministry to establish a public-private partnership agreement through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to bring into compliance and govern the multi-stakeholder management and operations of the Wallings Forest.

The Ministry recognises and commends the WNR for the dedicated work done in upgrading and managing the forest’s infrastructure and support facilities.

However, the Ministry notes that as WNR operates on Crown Land, there must be adherence to due procedure, statutory obligations and the rights of other partners, and accountability mechanisms.

Furthermore, contrary to intimations, the Ministry never had and is not aware of any plans to pursue any legal claims concerning the entity’s activities as this would defeat the purpose of finalising an MoU with WNR.

The Ministry’s newly assigned Legal Officer has been mandated to finalise the MoU and has been engaging with stakeholders one-on-one to best guide the drafting of the final output.

Despite frustrated efforts, this Ministry remains steadfast in its commitment to realising the establishment of the MoU to bring onboard more donors and other regional and international partners for greater support.

Moreover, the Ministry and by extension the Government of Antigua and Barbuda hope that upon the formalisation, the MoU would serve as a model to enable other community groups and organisations to become more active participants in the green economy and the country’s sustainable development.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. I recently brought a tourist to Walling’s Nature Reserve. I was very disappointed by the condition of the area around the dam. The empty building was filled with bats and bat droppings on the walls. The area was dilapidated and it was embarrassing to bring a tourist to this area in this condition and also after we paid an admission fee. Please use some of the money to clean up this area. Thank you

    • What is really the issue since the article did not identify the fundamental issue? Yes, the land is Crown land. The Wallings Nature Reserve (WNR) took the initiative and develop the area as a tourist attraction under a company. All the government has to do now is to formalize the operation of the WNR by giving them a lease with certain stipulations. That is all that is required. This thing about a public/private partnership is all nonsense.

  2. The government will take it over because they think money can be made. Give them a couple of years and the place will be overgrown as the government does not maintain their properties.
    The question is why are regional and international partners needed?
    Can’t Antiguans be given the support from the government and be allowed to run anything? You people don’t care anything about ordinary Antiguans.

  3. Why doesn’t the government focus on the Cades Bay Farm and start something there? In fact all of the Agricultural stations have such great potential and the government has left them to run down. They are just malicious and bad minded. Empower the young lady to pursue her passion and get her more support not more red tape. The Ministry of Agriculture including the Minister are a disgrace!!!

  4. I had the privilege to hike through the Wallings Nature Reserve down to Rendevous Bay 2 weeks ago and was very impressed by the natural beauty of the place and so proud that Antigua has something other than the beach to offer tourists.

    It would be a shame if the management company pulls out of the project because we are all too aware of what happens to tourism projects around here when our government gets too involved. The ONLY thing the government needs to provide is the necessary resources to assist the company in order to endure this project and many more like this thrive and leave the EXPERTS in the field to do their job. It’s a shame that the management company is now in such a position when this type of project is so important to the sustainability of our tourism product.

    If it’s not some fly-by-night investor promising some environmentally disastrous, mediocre hotel project on part of our pristine shone line, the government doesn’t seem very interested. The truth is, we don’t need another hotel, because quite frankly, there’s very little left of Antigua’s coastline to go around. We need to now give our full attention and resources to green tourism projects like the Wallings Nature Reserve.

    To all the workers of WNR, thank you, and keep up the good work. Don’t get tired of well-doing because your work and dedication to our island have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

  5. Public private partnership…sounds like they want to sell it to Bill Gates or something

  6. Ahhhh ….Sooo pellucid…
    Govt, and people of govt employ, see ‘enrichment’ opportunities at Wallings.
    Despicable.

    The hundreds of ANTIGUAN VOLUNTEERS who joined with Ms Attwood and believed in the vision for Wallings, who laboured and toiled for free, to bring this historical and natural area of outstanding beauty back-to-awesome;
    They must feel outraged, dissed and less-than by their government. Shocking. SPEAK OUT – LOUDLY. THEY NEED YOUR VOTE – MEK DEM EARN IT.

    Ms. Attwood THANK YOU & YOUR TEAM for vision, passion and untiring EFFORT.

    No-one paid Ms Attwood to spends hundreds of hours applying for grants, funding, acknowledgement.
    No-one really understands the mental, physical and soul drain that pushing water uphill takes.

    I salute this brilliant young Antiguan Woman.
    I understand her utter frustration and despair.

    I wish Ms Attwood every success AND true reward in her future projects.

    The Antiguan government has yet again, discarded a young ANTIGUAN who was benefitting our community, our country and making Antigua a better place.

    The only hope now is DONORS SPEAK OUT, PUSH BACK ON GOVT. & PAY THE LEGAL FEES TO ENSURE WALLINGS IS PROTECTED FROM TIEFERY, RAPE & MEDIOCRITY.

    .

  7. Everything the government.touch they mess up I mean everything. Now this. They’re seeing $$$$$$$$$🥨🥨

    • @ HORACE J SIMON
      Samantha and Gaston see ‘enrichment opportunities’ and will try to take over the operations themselves or through a third party.

      DEM TOO WICKED.
      VOTE DEM OUT

  8. I was very instrumental in the development of Wallings Reserve in the early part of the 90’s. Same story again of the government take over after we got a grant from the national parks of Puerto Rico and developed it with trails fireplace and gazebo. Good luck to all involved . Understand the feelings of those who have been working over the years.

  9. This area should be a part of our national park. This young lady in question should be commended. However collecting million dollar donations on the behalf of a government property and not accountable to anyone doesn’t smell right. The government through the environmental department can more than develop , upkeep and manage this project. So my recommendation is to pay her and her staff proper salaries and let it run under environment. Young lady sounds angry about the government inquiring about the grant funds she has been collecting.
    On the other hand the rats within the ministry of agriculture smell cheese. So they too want a bite. The environment decision led by Mrs.Blacklane is the most accountable arm of government. They bring projects, they get GRANTS and will not be afraid to be audited. My advice is to put it under environment. UPP and more do Franze be careful on jumping on wagon, the rat is getting stinker.

    • @ Frankly Speaking

      Why dont you keep UPP and Frantz out of your MINIONATED MOUTH.

      All you all want to jump on the band wagon to use it as a stepping stone for an ‘enrichment scheme’

  10. I listened to the young lady today and I am sure if we ask the opposition UPP leadership to honestly investigate. She would not want to disclose financials. So my advice to both government and opposition is to take this matter very seriously about people collecting grant funding.

  11. This is a hard pill to swallow in terms of the response. It is shallow at best and does not address fundamental issues. In fact, it is quite difficult to comprehend how the development and economic prospects of the ongoing venture is being missed by procedural nonsense. The truth is there is no procedure especially considering that it took 6 years for them to even recognize and formalize one.

    Introducing a legal person into the equation makes no sense given that this is a financing and development issue and not a legal one. Formalizing arrangements start from the onset with a clear direction, the formalization of a plan, agreement by principles and then formal arrangement through documentation. Seeking to put the cart before the horse has been the Achilles heel of our brilliant people. I just wish that someday, someday we would place our development over our individual self interests.

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