As plans are progressing to improve the capacity of stakeholders in the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve, the question is asked; why is the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve important to St. Kitts and Nevis and the communities that make up the reserve? Markysa O’Loughlin, National Coordinator of the Man and Biosphere Programme in St. Kitts and Nevis explains that because of the vulnerability of St. Kitts and Nevis’ environmentally, the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve helps to create a level of sustainability. “We have to think about better ways for which we can sustain our country and be more resilient to climate change and natural disasters.”
Ms. Oloughlin also argued the uniqueness of the Man and Biosphere programme and particularly, the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve. “Within this small area—and this is just about 4000 hectares of land, we have so many features that includes high biodiversity, a very rich history and heritage and a very culturally diverse area,” she explained. “Some of these key features include the leather back turtle that nests at Keys and that’s an endangered species. We also have areas such as the Spooners Cotton Ginnery, which was the only cotton ginnery in St. Kitts,” Ms. O’loughlin said. “We also have areas in White Estate, farms in Green Hill. There is a high concentration of farms within that specific area. And we can’t forget our people. We have some of the greatest artists and musicians from St. Kitts and Nevis and a lot of the music and arts that’s produced throughout the island is concentrated right there in that very small area,” she added. “It’s about creating sustainable livelihoods as well as preserving and protecting what we have and that’s why this programme is very important; not only for residents in the area but St. Kitts on a whole.”
Meanwhile Ms. Oloughlin disclosed that the Man and Biosphere consultant will be in the Federation in the coming days to meet with some of the relevant stakeholders including government ministers as efforts are being made, through the local UNESCO office to strengthen the capacity of the beneficiaries of the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve. “We are going to be having a series of meetings and consultations with very important experts of Man and the Biosphere programme throughout the world. Her name is Ms. June Marie and she is going to come to St. Kitts and Nevis and discuss with some key stakeholders a way forward,” she said. The National MAB Coordinator
These efforts under the auspices of the local UNESCO office are designed to improve the visibility and branding of the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve while highlighting its importance to its immediate residents.