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.