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.


Planetary Regeneration

To create regenerative spaces rich in biodiversity where individuals can connect and reconnect to the environment, while building more resilient economies, ecosystems, and communities.


WIRRED brings a holistic approach to the transformation of degraded lands through regenerative research, education, and design. We are committed to environmental stewardship, the economic wellbeing of all communities, and to increasing biodiversity to support a climate-resilient planet.



We believe in landscape and ecological regeneration using the principles of regenerative agroforestry, including permaculture. We practice these principles in the way we structure our operations and in how we interact with our employees, communities, partners, donors and clients. Authenticity is integrated to our core through the way we show up, communicate, and design.


We believe in the transformative power of technology and whole-systems thinking. By keeping innovation at the heart of our WIRRED ecosystem, we seek to refashion the way companies and markets interact with the natural environment. Through practical applications of regenerative science and innovation, we intend to solve complex social problems and empower microeconomies in Small Island Developing States and beyond.


We are founded on the whole-systems thinking approach of permaculture in which care for people, care for the earth, and fair share guide our daily operations. We believe that this planet is bountiful, and that abundance comes from us doing our part to increase soil fertility, nurture biodiversity, protect watersheds, and connect to our food sources and the environment.


We seek to empower those with whom we work, fostering an environment of learning by doing. We nurture creativity and collaboration to create a sense of ownership amongst our stakeholders that they can then generously share in their own learning communities.


We honor the culture of the communities in which we work, respecting and valuing diverse people and points of view. We work to create equitable, thriving environments where people, fauna, and flora all flourish together.


We conduct our business in an ethical manner and conduct activities with complete transparency. We are responsible stewards of our funds and our relationships with donors, partners, clients, employees, volunteers, interns, communities and supporters.


Our founder, Ian McNeel, asked the critical question: How do you restore a sand quarry, build habitats, create ecosystems and increase biodiversity?
Local Grounding
We brought in local and international experts to ground our knowledge in local ecology.
The Kickoff
We planned our route of regeneration and started preliminary landscape design.
We rolled out a finalized regeneration plan on-site with a critical focus on endemic species.
Partnership and Capacity Building
We wanted to share our new knowledge and experience; so we began offering permaculture training to the public sector and surrounding community.
Birth of WIRRED
With the official birth of WIRRED, we found greater expansion of partnerships and impact. We began really growing!
Master planning
Equipped with community and international support, we began refining and activating the long-term operational plan for Walkers Reserve and WIRRED.

Our people are invaluable to our mission

Ian McNeel

Founder, Director & Visionary

Selwyn Smith

Founding Director
Selwyn is a retired public servant with a distinguished public service career. He has served nationally as a Permanent Secretary with the Barbados Public Service and regionally with the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD). Selwyn is committed to good corporate governance and has managed programs and participated with international institutions in programs to improve public sector management especially in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). He is a trained consultant in Organisational Development and Management, Negotiations and Human Resource Management.

David Burns

Director Finance
David is the President/CFO McNeel Capital. David started his career in the tax division of Arthur Andersen & Company, the international CPA firm. David is a Florida and Oklahoma Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Florida and American Institute of CPA’s. Prior to joining McNeel Capital he founded Beach Capital Advisors, a boutique investment bank providing strategic, financial and management advisory services to clients in connection with merger, acquisition, and corporate finance transactions. From 1990-2001 David worked at Communications Equity Associates (“CEA”), a boutique media and communications investment bank based in Tampa Florida, ultimately becoming President of the firm.

Shae Warren

Director Projects
Shae is a geotechnical engineer and avid conservationists. He has 9 years of experience working within the Caribbean and Canada in the field of engineering. His early career was focused on infrastructure development projects in the energy sector where he gained experience in renewable energies, mining, oil & gas transmission, environmental impact assessments, and environmental remediation. He plays on this experience in his current role as Director Projects at Walkers Institute for Regenerative Research Education and Design (WIRRED). Shae is also the Chief of Operations for Walkers Sand Quarry and carries a wealth of knowledge with regards to the extractive industry. He has a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) in Civil Structural and Geotechnical Engineering from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Elize Rostant

Program Manager
Elize is a creative professional with a background in design, management and arts administration. Her collaborative approach has led to her successful management of public, private and civil sector teams in the Caribbean, Canada and the United States. She has also worked on transnational projects in the creative and cultural industries with partners from around the world. Over the past several years, Elize has delved more deeply into sustainable development initiatives in the Caribbean, integrating eco-tourism, the arts and regenerative environmental practices as a means of achieving positive cultural transformation. Elize believes in the power of harnessing the region's potential through the development of our people and strives to be a catalyst for positive change by applying her skills and talents to building communities nationally, regionally and internationally.

Kiesha Farnum

Board Member
Kiesha is an international development professional with over 19 years of experience. She has worked in project/programme management, organizational development and climate project finance across a variety of sectors and thematic areas in 28 countries throughout the English and non-English speaking Caribbean. Kiesha holds a Masters in Project Management, with a specialization in the Economics of Oil and Gas (& Renewable Energy) from the University of Liverpool, is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and a trained executive leadership coach.

Jehroum Wood

Director Research & Development
Jehroum Wood, Director Research & Development: Jehroum is an Environmental Management professional. His whole approach is about finding solutions that strengthen people, the planet and our pockets. From spatial planning to video production; he applies a natural science lens to assessing problems and creating sustainable solutions for various local, regional and international organizations. He has also worked on communication & capacity building projects of various scales with specific focus on training and education in environmental and natural resource management.

Meike Joseph

Project Officer & Manager
Meike Joseph graduated from the UWI Cave Hill Campus with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology. During her time at UWI she completed a research project on Remnant Wetlands on the West Coast of Barbados. This has fueled her passion to work on mangrove restoration on the island and has also motivated her to work towards more regenerative practices for Barbados. She also developed a love for beekeeping and has since been working with the Walkers Reserve Apiary Programme (WRAP). Meike also has over 10 years experience within the tourism industry, which has greatly increased her communication skills as well as tour and camp managing skills. Her love for the environment motivates her to find ways in which she can improve environmental awareness, protection, and sustainability in Barbados.

WIRRED believes in all the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Its mandate is in specific alignment with the following goals:


WIRRED believes that the Regenerative economy will create real economic growth that will be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality.
WIRRED believes that carbon farming and healthy soils will revitalize the food and agriculture sector and will offer key solutions for true development, without degradation, and is integral for hunger and poverty eradication.
WIRRED believes truly regenerative landscapes will be healing and nourishing ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, at all ages.
WIRRED is committed to gender equality as a fundamental human right and is dedicated to working with its communities in a gender-equitable and inclusive manner.
WIRRED is dedicated to researching and supporting carbon neutral and carbon negative technologies and increasing energy efficiency in its operations. We support the decentralized development of clean energy sources that support rural economies and create resilience to the effects of climate change.
WIRRED believes that the circular economy will stimulate regenerative economic growth and allow people to have quality jobs within the regenerative space.
WIRRED is committed to reducing inequalities by providing training and opportunities centered around regenerative agriculture and climate change adaptation and mitigation for disadvantaged and marginalized populations in the communities in which we work.
WIRRED will build regenerative spaces that provide enhanced opportunities to its communities.
WIRRED strives to be a leader in environmental stewardship, responsibly managing its production and consumption inputs and outputs.
WIRRED embraces Climate Change as a reality and is committed to increasing climate resilience.
WIRRED is committed to the careful management of this essential global resource, supporting solutions from Ridge to Reef and working to ensure pollution free watersheds connected to healthy oceans for all.
WIRRED is committed to regenerating forests, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation (man-made or naturally occurring), halting and restoring biodiversity loss.
WIRRED believes that successful regenerative development requires partnerships between all stakeholders; governments, the private sector, and civil society. Partnerships based on shared values and goals that place the planet and people at the center are critical to development at the local, national, regional, and international level.