Barbados and its Unfulfilled Ramsar Convention Obligations











Figure 1. Logo of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

The Convention on Wetlands is an inter-governmental treaty adopted on February 2, 1971 in the Iranian city, Ramsar. The Convention entered into force in 1975 and covers all aspects of wetland conservation and wise use recognising wetlands as ecosystems that are extremely important for biodiversity conservation in general and for the well-being of human communities.[1]

Barbados became a party to the Convention in 2006 and has only one Ramsar site: “The Graeme Hall Swamp”, designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites) with a surface area of 33 hectares.[2]

In the 2012 National Report on the Implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Barbados’ Administrative Authority declared the constitution of a committee to address all the issues regarding the RAMSAR Site.

Surprisingly in the committee no representative of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary (GHNS) was invited.

In their report, the Barbados’ Administrative Authority stated,

“Through the Graeme Hall Ecosystem Management Committee, Terms of Reference have been prepared for the execution of an integrated management study”.[3] To date, such study has not been published.

Moreover, they assured that the Ramsar Site management plans establish the maintenance of the ecological character as a management objective.[4]

Contrary to what was declared, two extensive environmental studies conducted in 2010 and 2018 by Environmental Engineering Consultants Ltd. from Tampa, Florida revealed that ‘the eco-tourist site and protected wetland has been treated as a conventional wastewater (facultative) lagoon by the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant’ and the unique mangrove ecosystem is diminishing rapidly.[5] The report also recommended the restriction of public access to the lake due to serious health concerns, thereby making it impossible to operate the Sanctuary as an eco-tourist site[6].

Barbados government has violated several obligations and commitments in the RAMSAR convention which states: The Contracting Parties shall formulate and implement their planning so as to promote the conservation of the wetlands included in the List, and as far as possible the wise use of wetlands in their territory”. [7]

Instead of conservation, the Government of Barbados through its agency, the Barbados Water Authority, are paving the path of utter destruction of the only RAMSAR site on the island.

It is time for the international community to intervene and to save the last significant mangrove forest in Barbados.



[1] http://heritage.gov.bb/ramsar.html

[2] https://www.ramsar.org/wetland/barbados

[3] Page 8, https://www.ramsar.org/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/cop11/nr/cop11-nr-barbados.pdf

[4] Page 24, https://www.ramsar.org/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/cop11/nr/cop11-nr-barbados.pdf

[5] https://www.graemehall.com/press/papers/Graeme%20Hall%20043010%20MEA%20(report%20only).pdf

[6] https://www.graemehall.com/press/releases/lab-results-confirm-destruction/

[7] https://www.ramsar.org/sites/default/files/documents/library/current_convention_text_e.pdf