Basseterre, St. Kitts, June 16, 2016 (SKNIS): Five park rangers who have been employed by the Department of Environment are currently undergoing a series of training and capacity development activities to equip them with the skills needed to monitor and manage the Federation’s protected areas.
The training programme, which commenced June 01, concludes in July and will be followed by an official launch of the Park Rangers on July 12. By then, the rangers should be versed in forestry and botany, map reading, tour guide duties, first aid, conflict resolution and tours of specified protected areas. Four of them will be stationed in St. Kitts and one in Nevis.
This initiative falls under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project entitled “Conserving Biodiversity and Reducing Habitat Degradation in Protected Areas and their Areas of influence.” The project is Global Environment Fund (GEF) funded and was launched August 26, 2015. It will oversee the operationalization of two existing terrestrial protected areas, the Central Forest Reserve National Park (CFRNP) and the Royal Basseterre Valley National Park, that are currently without active management. Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is the third officially declared terrestrial protected area and has its own management system in place. The Royal Basseterre Valley National Park was established for the protection of the Basseterre Aquifer. All current sites are located on St. Kitts. The CFRNP was established primarily for ecological conservation while the Royal Basseterre Valley National Park was established for the protection of the Basseterre Aquifer.
“Conserving Biodiversity and Reducing Habitat Degradation in Protected Areas and their Areas of Influence” is expected to improve ecosystem representation in the Protected Areas system, establish or strengthen protected area management operations at key sites and strengthen institutional, policy, legal or regulatory, information and financing frameworks, at the protected area system level.
June Hughes, Senior Environmental Officer and Head of the Department of Environment, said that St. Kitts and Nevis stands to benefit significantly from the GEF investment as the project is expected to pave the way for the legal establishment of five new protected areas, two terrestrial and three marine. The proposed areas will be Nevis Peak National Park and the Camps River Watershed Area, Booby Island Nature Reserve, Sandy Point Marine Management Area, the Narrows Marine Management Area and the Keys Marine Management Area. The park rangers are expected to work in these new areas as well.
According to Claudia Walwyn-Drew, Project Manager, the recruitment of the park rangers will enable St. Kitts and Nevis to effectively manage the existing and proposed areas at the site level.
The Park Rangers will be based at the site office at Wingfield Estate, Old Road, in a building shared with Sky Safaris Tours Inc.