Stakeholders pledge support to protect St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve

Stakeholders in the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve made their contribution in a workshop on Tuesday October 30th towards the development of a management plan for the reserve. At the opening ceremony at the conference room of the Bird Rock Beach Hotel, Minister responsible for UNESCO Shawn Richards acknowledged the importance of the St Mary’s Biosphere Reserve and pledged government’s support in the efforts to develop and preserve that geographical area. “I am happy to see all of the various stakeholders, including students, teachers, tour operators, farmers, area residents, staff from the Departments of Agriculture, Fisheries, Education, Tourism, Culture, Sustainable Development, People Empowerment, etc. To this end we look forward to strengthen our partnerships,” he said.

National Man and Biosphere Coordinator Markyssa O’Loughlin, gave an overview of the work done in the Biosphere over the years to educate its inhabitants while promoting its preservation. “Whenever we get a chance, we engage in community consultations,” Ms. O’Loughlin said, pointing to the significance of these sessions on an international level.

Kalthleen Pessolano, a consultant to the St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism also spoke at the opening ceremony, where she pointed out the travel trends as it relates to tourism and the environment and what tourists are looking for in a destination. “The reason you are here today and the reason you are engaged in this whole program is that you are producing experiences. You are taking care of your community in ways that are going to attract visitors to come and buy experiences that you have to offer,” Pessolano said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Austin Jay Farier spoke of the zoning for effective management of the Biosphere Reserve. “Even though we do not practice zoning, we would recommend zoning, especially to facilitate the preservation and conservation efforts within the area. So that means we would not want development close to historic and environmentally sensitive areas. We can zone for that. That is not flexible,” Farier explained.  Ms. June Marie, the UNESCO MAB Consultant, facilitated the workshop in getting participants to contribute to the management plan.

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