With no visitors, no endowment, and no direct governmental assistance, the Asa Wright Nature Centre (AWNC) has now found itself in a financial bind and is seeking public assistance to raise funds to continue operations.
The centre, one of the first in the Caribbean, is trying to raise US$50,000, which they said will then be matched by an anonymous patron.
The Centre had ceased operations during the start of the Covid19 crisis, in compliance with guidelines from the Health Ministry, and after considering the health and well-being of visitors, guests, staff, and local communities.
A notice on its social media page said it would remain closed to the public until further notice pending additional advice and guidance from the ministry.
Dr Judith Gobin, a board member, said “Unfortunately, the aid announced by government for tourism has only been afforded to Tobago. With no visitors, no endowment, and no direct governmental assistance, the AWNC needs to continue to adhere to its mandate. In effect we are cross-subsidising conservation by tourism.”
AWNC has received a number of contributions to date from both individual persons, as well as some members of corporate TT. And, their non-local board members have been doing an amazing job with foreign fundraising efforts.
However, Gobin said the centre is now appealing to the public and will be “eternally grateful” for any contribution.
She said “While we are closed during this crisis our staff is making every effort to continue to provide food for our resident birds in order that they still be there for our visitors when we can reopen!
About the Asa Wright Nature Centre:
The centre was established through a not-for-profit trust by naturalists and birdwatchers in 1967 to protect part of the Arima Valley in a natural state, and to create a conservation and study area for the protection of wildlife and for the enjoyment of all.
It manages 495 hectares of land as a wildlife sanctuary in the Arima, Aripo and Guanapo valleys, a field research station and a lodge, and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Some of the objectives of Asa Wright are: the protection of Spring Hill Estate as a wildlife sanctuary and nature centre; the continued operation and improved efficiency of the centre’s agricultural potential to provide an ecologically sound relationship between the natural habitat and its agriculturally developed portions; continuing and extending its scientific and educational potential through encouraging use of its facilities by amateur, student and professional naturalists, with special emphasis on maintaining a wide international interest in the centre; and furthering the preservation of the natural flora and fauna of TT by encouraging the study of natural history by residents and visitors.