Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 27 2016 (SKNIS): Planning the official launch of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Website and Facebook Page and the erection of MAB sign walls was the main business of the first Man and the Biosphere Committee meeting for 2016 which was held January 21.

Antonio Maynard, Secretary General of the UNESCO National Commission, chaired the meeting and proposed a draft launch outline which included brief presentations possibly by Parliamentary Representative of the area, Minister Eugene Hamilton or his representative, as well as Markysa O’Loughlin who is the developer of the MAB website and Facebook Page.  It was noted that a sign wall would also be unveiled on the evening of the launch, outside of the Cayon Community Centre which was chosen as the venue for the event.  Possible persons capable of chairing the event were also discussed.

Ms. O’Loughlin took the opportunity to explain that the website and the social media outlet would not only enable two-way communication between residents of the communities in the MAB and the local UNESCO officials, but it also provides an opportunity for locals as well as those further afield to know what activities are taking place on the ground in the MAB area.  She stressed that it is more than just “pushing out pictures.”

Leah Carriere who is working with the Ministry of Tourism, noted that there were several prospective projects that were being formulated with the mentioned Ministry that would fall in line with the objectives of the MAB programme.  This included a waste management project.

The St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN) also provided an update which was presented by Kristi Hill.  She informed that the relevant government authorities had given approval for the construction of an Interpretation Centre to be operated by the SKSTMN on the Keys Beach.  She said the lease had been paid and construction was expected to commence by April, 2016.

It was also drawn to the committee’s attention that there were certain areas in the biosphere reserve that residents had been dumping garbage indiscriminately.  This refuse was said to include larger items such as refrigerators and stoves which persons failed to take to the landfill but dumped in ghauts illegally.  Chairperson Maynard reminded members that it was the role of MAB to bring such environmentally destructive matters into the public domain for discussion and eventual corrective action.  Several committee members agreed to visit the area, take pictures and start the dialogue with the general public.  Mr. Maynard also revealed that he had been alerted that someone was attempting to sell an antique war canon found in the waters of St. Kitts on the internet site Ebay. Official channels were identified to address the matter.

Photo: Markysa O’loughlin

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