Roseau, Dominica – February 25, 2008……… Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit has pledged Government’s commitment to the completion of the restoration work at the Cabrits National Park in Portsmouth by making a financial contribution towards the establishment of The Cabrits Heritage and Ecology Centre (CHEC).
At a brief ceremony at the Cabrits recently, the Prime Minister presented a cheque for $250,000 to Dr. Lennox Honychurch, representing the first instalment of an amount of $2 million needed to establish the Centre at the Cabrits designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
In his remarks at the ceremony, the Prime Minister said that he his government sees the Cabrits restoration programme as an “integral part, the nucleus of tourism development in Portsmouth”.
” The Government is here this morning in a practical and tangible way to give its firm commitment to the complete restoration of the Cabrits,” Prime Minister Skerrit stated.
The aim is to establish Fort Shirley as the Cabrits Heritage and Ecology Centre where community groups, students, both local and foreign, artists, researchers in such fields as archaeology, anthropology, botany and zoology can come to learn more about the environment and the heritage of Dominica.
This new phase of the restoration of the Cabrits will involve:
· Completion of Officers’ Quarters
· Repairs to Guard House and storage shed
· Restoration of Powder Magazine for displays and exhibitions
· Restore Troops Barracks to create camp facilities for Heritage and Ecology Centre
It is expected that up to twenty (20) Dominican will be employed from the first week in March, 2008 when the second phase of the Cabrits restoration programme resumes.
Also addressing the ceremony were Tourism Minister, Hon. Ian Douglas, Agriculture Minister, Hon. Matthew Walter, and Housing Minister, Hon. Reginald Austrie and Dr. Lennox Honychurch of Island Heritage Initiatives.
The Cabrits Garrison was built between 1765 and the 1820s to guard the Portsmouth harbour and the north of Dominica. It served as a battleground between British and French forces in the 18th and 19th centuries for control of Dominica. It was abandoned in 1854 and the forest reclaimed the volcanic headland until restoration began in the 1980s.
Major work began on the restoration of the Cabrits Fort Shirley complex in 2006 under the Eco-tourism Development Programme, an initiative funded by the European Commission and the Government of Dominica.
The Shankland and Cox Report of the early 1970s designated the north of the island as an area suited for tourism development. The restoration of the Cabrits, the improvement of the landing facility at the Indian River, the completion of the Guillete Penville link road and the proposed marina development in Portsmouth illustrates Government’s commitment to making Portsmouth finally begin to realise its enormous potential in the tourism sphere. (Ends)