Dr. Kimberly Stewart Of The St. Kitts Seaturtle Monitoring Network
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
May 11, 2012 (SKNIS)
It was the general consensus, at the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Committee launch, that nothing less than a multi-sectoral approach would be accepted when it came to the development of the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve.
Dr. David Doyle, Permanent Representative for St. Kitts and Nevis to UNESCO, noted that the Madrid Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves 2008 – 2013 had identified certain programme areas and activities emphasizing the same all inclusive policy. This includes developing mechanisms to encourage the sustainable development of Biosphere Reserves.
“These activities are carried out in partnership with all sectors of society,” Dr. Doyle noted. “This is a very important critical issue ““ the necessity of including the local community, the stakeholder in general ““ ensuring they have a stake and can contribute to the identification of projects going forward.”
In agreement Antonio Maynard, Secretary General of the UNESCO National Commission of St. Kitts and Nevis emphasized that the function of Biosphere Reserves require a cooperative effort.
“Biosphere reserves are treated internationally as the main areas designated to sustainable development and are used as learning and research spaces, as well as places for eco-tourism activities,” Mr. Maynard explained. “Political decision-makers, scientists, the research community, management professionals including tourism officials and community groups usually work collectively to channel the global principles of sustainable development into appropriate local practices for economic benefit.”
The St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network, headed by Dr. Kimberly Stewart, is one of the key stakeholders due to the fact that Keys Beach in St. Mary’s is the main nesting area in the Federation for leatherback sea-turtles. As the name of the organization suggests, Dr. Stewart and her staff in collaboration with the Department of Marine Resources organize turtle watches and carry out tagging activities. She explained the objectives of the nine-year old Turtle Monitoring Network, revealing that several local partners have been involved throughout the process.
“There are three primary goals,” Dr. Stewart revealed. “They are to implement a longstanding community-based conservation programme that will last; to promote community awareness of the plight of sea-turtles because often we many not know what’s in our backyards; and to provide non-consumable sources of income as a replacement for the harvest of sea-turtles.”
Other mentioned key issues relevant to biosphere reserves included underwater cultural exploration, illegal sand-mining, disaster management, climate change adaptation, adjacent eco-systems, preservation of cultural heritage and collaboration on activities of community festivals.
The executive of the MAB Committee are Transitional Chairperson Antonio Maynard, Deputy Chairperson Austin “Jay” Farier, Coordinator of the Site Dr. Kimberly Stewart, Representative from the St. Mary’s Area Telca Wallace and Recording Secretary Kate Orchard.