St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve is Indeed ‘Worth a Trip’

Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 13, 2011 (SKNIS): St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve located in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis was highlighted by the International Herald Tribune among six newly designated biospheres to be “worth a trip.”

According to the official UNESCO website, there are 580 biosphere reserves in 114 countries and last year, which was the 40th Anniversary of the programme, 18 new biospheres were designated by the United Nations Organ. Sarah Wildman, Herald Tribune writer, chose to highlight St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve along with four other new ones in her article.

“And St. Mary’s, on St. Kitts and Nevis, with its cloud forests, mangroves and coral reefs, is one of the first biosphere reserves in the Caribbean,” wrote Wildman, in an article entitled “6 Biospheres Worth a Trip.”

Antonio Maynard, Director General of St. Kitts and Nevis UNESCO Commission had oversight of the activities and submissions toward the St. Mary’s designation, and currently serves as the transitional Chairperson of the St. Kitts and Nevis UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Committee which was launched April 23, 2012. To date, the committee has a Plan of Action for the sustainable development of St. Mary’s area while a Management Plan is in the works.

“It [the International recognition] takes the potential for tourism in St. Kitts and Nevis to another level,” Mr. Maynard emphasized noting that the Herald Tribune is the global version of the New York Times. “We were also hailed by the UNESCO Media Services, by print and radio, as the first Biosphere Reserve in the English-speaking Caribbean. People the world over travel to experience eco-tourism, and the site being on the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve listing brings our Federation into sharp focus. It’s good exposure in terms of sustainable development and climate change issues. In fact, some international students have already expressed interest in researching their theses on site.”

One such student is Amber Greening, a former Peace Corps representative who carried out her tenure in St. Kitts. Having kept up to date with activities in the Federation, her interest was peaked when she read about the UNESCO MAB designation. Even more so, because she currently attends the Utah State University and is taking a major of Human Dimensions of Ecosystems Science and Management.

“My area is in community-based conservation and I became interested in that type of conservation when I was a Peace Corps volunteer out here from 2006 to 2008,” Ms. Greening explained.

“The island already had tourism in place but was transitioning to eco-tourism and kind of bringing it away from the peninsular and into the villages and trying to preserve culture and do that along with local development. So I came in and I’m interested in what are the perceptions of communities during this transition, and what are their attitudes and beliefs in these projects and how do these attitudes either inhibit or promote villagers’ participation.”

According to UNESCO a Biosphere Reserve is an area “of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are internationally recognized, nominated by national governments and remain under sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located.” This initiative falls under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme.

The certificate declaring St. Mary’s, as a Biosphere Reserve was handed over to the Federation at the 36th Session of the UNESCO General Conference, in early November 2011.

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