Conservation of Biodiversity: St Kitts Central Forest Reserve Protected


St Kitts rain forest in the Wingfield Area

ST. KITTS, MAY 8TH 2005 (CUOPM) St. Kitts’ Central Forest Reserve above the 1,000 feet contour, has been selected as the site in the Federation for the OECS Protected Areas and Associated Livelihoods Project (OPAAL).

This has been disclosed by Minister of State in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, the Hon. Nigel Carty, who said the area, a mountain cluster dominated by three volcanic centers and a chain of residual hills, representing the last remaining area of tropical forest the island, is of great significance for the conservation of biodiversity in the area.

Officially launching the project at the Ocean Terrace Inn, Minister Carty said the area was selected for purpose of protection and sustainable management of vital water and biodiversity resources.

He said the sites in the OECS were selected because of their ecological significance and the degree of threat to species in the area, sensitivity to threats and the relationship of the site to other protected areas.

“Social attributes such as local public support for the project site selected and ownership and access to land for the project site and institutional and administrative aspects such as political will or support for the project, protected areas enabling legislation and financial support for the project were also taken into consideration,” said Minister Carty.

He said sustainable livelihood activities that occur in the area include, eco-tourism activities through guided tours and safaris, use of forest products by local communities for charcoal production, fish pot stick by local fishermen and the use of bamboo for craft making materials.

Minister Carty, who was appointed a Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Sustainable Development, Information and Technology following the October24 General Elections, aid the Federal Government will declare the site a Protected Area and it will be referred to as Central Forest Protected Area (CFPA) and this can be achieved through the mechanism in the National Conservation and Environmental Protection Act.

“It is important that stakeholders understand that the proposed site will not prevent the use of the area to support local livelihoods. It however provides a unique opportunity for ensuring that these activities are performed in an environmentally sustainable manner,” said Minister Carty, who added that the project paves the way for the implementation of the necessary institutional arrangements.

He said the OPAAL Project will expand on the existing Wingfield Watershed Project in Old Road, which was designed to promote eco-tourism and watershed protection in the Wingfield area.

The OPAAL Project is an important project for St Kitts and Nevis as it will assist in the management and use of the Federation’s natural resources at a time when there is increased pressure in the use of these resources to support economic development.

“Tourism which represents our main revenue generator stands to benefit from this project as it will enhance and protect the natural resource base that this industry is dependent,” said the Junior Minister, who also pointed out that the project will also provide opportunities for the sustainable management of the sugar lands after the end of commercial sugar production.

“The associated and alternative livelihood component of the project represents a crucial aspect for St Kitts and Nevis in light of the fact that we are now going out of commercial sugar production. The sustainable use of our natural resources in providing alternative economic activity takes on increased significance in this context and OPAAL will help us to achieve these goals as the conservation of resources is its main objective,” said Minister Carty.

The OECS Protected Areas and Associated Livelihoods Project (OPAAL) is a five year project designed to achieve the conservation of biodiversity in the OECS sub-region through the establishment and management of Protected Areas.

It started in 1999 as a proposal put forward by the Government of St Lucia. The World Bank was approached for funding and it was decided to expand the project to include the OECS sub-region, to ensure the achievement of sustainable development objectives.

The OPAAL Project will cost US$7.57million and will be funded by the World Bank through the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) that will be providing US$3.7million.

Counterpart funding will be provided by the French Government through its Fond Francais de l’Environment Mondial (FFEM) providing US$1.64 million and the Organisation of American States (OAS), providing US$350,000.

The Participating Member States of the OECS will be providing US$1.88 million dollars from in-kind contributions.

Photo: Hills overlooking Old Road River (Photo by Erasmus Williams)

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