OPAAL plants entrepreneurship seed

The trail leading up to Mount Liamuigua

St. Kitts, May 13, 2010 (SKNIS) – The OECS Protected Areas and Associated Livelihoods (OPAAL) Project has several upcoming activities designed to formalize operations of the Central Forest Reserve National Park (CFRNP) and provide training for business persons operating out of it.

OPAAL Site Coordinator Ilis Watts informed the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service that planned events include the launch of the Sustainable Livelihoods Sub-Project which encourages residents of the CFRNP to come up with creative and sustainable means of making a living by using the natural and socio-cultural environment of the area. As such, possible livelihoods can fall under several broad areas including conducting tours, security, souvenir production, and concessions. Mrs. Watts emphasized that the career possibilities are endless and depend on the skills and creativity of prospective entrepreneurs.

Cloud covered Liamigua Peak

The OPAAL Site Coordinator explained that the CFRNP became a legal entity March 29, 2007 when it was gazetted. It includes the range of hills from Mount Liamigua in the North West through Verchild’s Mountain in the middle range to Olivees Mountain in the South East. It covers an area of 50 km² or 12,500 acres which is almost a quarter of St. Kitts.

Mrs. Watts also revealed that following the signing of the appropriate contracts in the coming weeks, renovations of the Wingfield Estate House are expected to commence August, 2010. The former plantation house will serve as Office and Interpretation Centre for the CFRNP.

Another interesting event is a hike to Black River in the Wingfield area. Mrs. Watts said that this is one of the less frequented trails by locals and the hike is being done to familiarize would-be entrepreneurs with the area. Training in micro business management pertaining to literacy and numeracy will also upgrade the skills base of the persons seeking livelihoods in the CFRNP.

Dos D’Anse Pond on a clear sunny day

OPAAL Site Coordinator Watts revealed that completed activities included visits to target primary schools to address the CFRNP’s importance to biodiversity conservation; a communication training workshop pertaining to promotion of the CFRNP; the airing of TV and Radio public service announcements on Protected Areas and the formation of the Site Implementing Entity (SIE). She outlined that the SIE is a broad-based stakeholder group comprised of representatives from community groups, users of the forest reserve, and institutions that have a particular interest in the CFR such as tourism, water, police and agriculture. The SIE is responsible for screening sub-project concepts, seeking approval of communities for proposed projects, mobilizing community contributions in the management of the CRF, providing technical assistance and monitoring project implementation.

Mrs. Watts detailed that the role of the CFRNP is to conserve biodiversity, including ecosystem functions, and scenic resources, so that it remains an intact resource for the sustainable use and enjoyment of future generations of St. Kitts and Nevis as well as visitors.

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