From Extractive to Regenerative
The Walkers Institute for Regenerative Research and Design (WIRRED) was born out of the restoration of Walkers Sand Quarry. For more than 50 years, the McNeel family provided an abundance of silica sand to the nation of Barbados while managing to steward and protect one of the largest native beach-side forests on the island. Since 1968 the quarry’s extracted silica sand has been used in nearly every building project across Barbados. But as the construction industry exhausts the sand supply, a new story is emerging — one of biodiversity, ecological health, and regeneration.
Ian McNeel, the Director and Founder of WIRRED, began to research and cultivate skill sets around building habitats and increasing the biodiversity of broad acre degraded landscapes. He envisioned the Walkers site as holding space with a holistic and interconnected purpose. Ultimately, he landed on regenerative agroforestry, utilizing permaculture design principles, as the framework to guide the transformation of the quarry into a thriving nature reserve and eco agro-tourism destination.
In 2011 a team of local and international experts was assembled to explore the potential for using regenerative design principles to restore the quarry’s landscape ecology. Their preliminary findings indicated that these techniques opened up the potential for businesses and communities to co-create meaningful livelihoods, steward nature-based economies, and actively build a model for climate adaptation and resilience for Barbados and the world.
Today, WIRRED brings solutions to complex problems by creating disruptive design systems that increase biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services, and improve the well-being of individuals and communities. Disruptive design positively intervenes and disrupts the status quo of any problem to create effective, equitable, and sustainable outcomes. By exploring the edges of our systems, we open ourselves to seeing the non-obvious opportunities that can generate profound, innovative ways to leverage change. Through ongoing research, education, design, and community partnerships WIRRED creates regenerative spaces in which individuals can connect/reconnect to the environment, while building more resilient economies, ecosystems and communities.
Partnership and Capacity Building
Birth of WIRRED
Our people are invaluable to our mission
WIRRED believes in all the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Its mandate is in specific alignment with the following goals: