Visiting Asa Wright Nature Centre

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Asa Wright Nature Centre has been closed to visitors for several months and the eco-lodge has permanently ceased operations. However, the not-for-profit Trust remains in existence and it will continue managing its protected areas as a wildlife sanctuary.

We will continue with thoughtful consideration for the health and well-being of our visitors, staff, and local communities, in compliance with guidelines established by our Ministry of Health regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, and thus remain closed until further notice.

During the interim, we will be working towards preserving the wildlife sanctuary and engaging in critical conservation work. As we have no revenue to sustain these important activities your assistance is critical – please help support our work now with your donation.

Please join the growing list of friends, government officials, business and community leaders, scientists, environmentalists, teachers, parents and children from around the world who have already donated to help us during this crisis!

DONATE HERE


Sunday 21st February 2021

Media Statement

STATEMENT ON ASA WRIGHT NATURE CENTRE

In March 2020, with the closure of the country’s borders to international travel the Asa Wright Nature Centre was forced to close its ecolodge. It was the Centre’s hope that this would be temporary, and that the business of the Centre could continue on a limited scale. However, since March 2020, the Centre has not generated any income from its ecolodge and there has been little or no work available for employees. Sadly, nearly a year later, there is no indication as to when the eco-tourism sector will recover from the ongoing pandemic.

It was against this backdrop, that the Board after a review of its finances and in an effort to avoid the risk of insolvency took a unanimous decision to permanently close its business. A consequence of this decision was that employees had to be dismissed.

The Board notes with concern, publicised allegations in relation to the closure of its business which calls into question the good faith and propriety of such action. The Board wishes to reiterate that the decision to close permanently was taken reluctantly and only after receipt of legal advice as to the appropriate manner of such closure. The Board has acted in accordance with this legal advice and rejects any assertion that it breached any legal obligation to its employees or otherwise.

As many persons may not be aware, most of the employees of the Centre are represented by the Government Industrial and General Workers Union, which is the recognised majority union. As such the Board is obligated by law to deal directly with the Union and not the workers personally. The Board has honoured this legal obligation though there may be workers who disagreed with this process.

The Union has now reported seven disputes to the Ministry of Labour. It is unfortunate that claims now being advanced by the Union before the Ministry of Labour have now found themselves in the public arena. The Board has been advised that is obligated to respect the confidentiality and exclusivity of the conciliation processes which has already been engaged and to not disclose those discussions. The Board has at all times been respectful of its legal obligations and is confident that its conduct will be vindicated by any Court before which these matters are raised.

Since the closure, there has been an outpouring of support for the Centre. Over the past few weeks, the Board has worked tirelessly to put into place measures for the protection, monitoring and maintenance of our lands and the animals that call it their home. In the weeks ahead, the Board will continue to explore ways to protect and fulfil its conservation mission and services in a sustainable way for Trinidad & Tobago and the international community. We look forward to the continued and invaluable support of our friends, volunteers, and champions.

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Sunday 17th January 2021
Media Statement

ASA WRIGHT NATURE CENTRE CLOSES ECO-LODGE BUSINESS

(Arima) – With the closure of the borders and limited physical movement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board 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.

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