Release by-Prof. Judith Gobin, Chair, AWNC
17th January 2021
With the closure of the borders and limited physical movement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, theBoard of Management of the Asa Wright Nature Centre has taken a decision to terminate its eco-lodge business.
The Asa Wright Nature Centre is a Conservation Land Trust, which comprises approximately 1,500 acres of mainly forested land in the Arima, Guanapo and Aripo Valleys of the Northern Range. The Objectives of the Trust include retaining the lands under forest cover in perpetuity, protecting the community watershed and conserving and maintaining important wildlife and their habitats.
The Centre’s main facilities, including its eco-lodge, are located on a former cocoa-coffee-citrus plantation in the Arima valley. Since 1967, the lodge has offered accommodation in cottages near the Main House open to local and foreign visitors alike–attracting mainly eco-tourists, nature lovers and bird watchers from all over the world. It is considered one of the top ecolodges in the world and was recognized in the New York Times Bestseller book by Patricia Shulz 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.
Board Chairperson Prof. Judith Gobin said “the Board of Management which comprises voluntary members covering a range of professions, have made every effort to attempt to keep the lodge operational, but its closure was inevitable. With no visitors, no revenue, no endowment, and no direct governmental assistance it has been extremely challenging for the Asa Wright Nature Centre”.
She said they were faced with a dilemma on how to move forward with no visitors. “It was a very difficult decision for us, as we have staff who have been with us from since we first opened our doors. We have made every effort to ensure our staff were employed from March to December 2020, but as we move forward into 2021 with no insight as to what is to come, we realized we could not afford to sustain this business.” As a result, we were forced to make the hard decision to close down, regrettably releasing all members of our staff associated with the business.
Prof. Gobin emphasizes that the conservation and protection work of the Trust continues and we are heartened by the response to our call for funding for this work-which we first made in October 2020.