UNESCO, St. Mary's Biosphere. St. Kitts

What is a Biosphere Reserve

Biosphere Reserves are areas of terrestrial and coastal/marine ecosystems, or a combination thereof, which are internationally recognized within the framework of UNESCO's Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB) They are established to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere. Biosphere Reserves, while promoting the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources, are also living laboratories where conservation and sustainable use of natural resources can be demonstrated. Thus, benefiting from the unique features of Biosphere Reserves, local populations, governments and other stakeholders will work together in the creation of new products and services contributing to the growth of local income streams.

Biosphere Reserves are designated by the International Coordinating Council of the MAB Programme at the request of the State concerned. Individual Biosphere Reserves remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the State where they are situated. Collectively, all biosphere reserves form a World Network in which participation by States is voluntary.The Biosphere Reserves will serve as drivers for the conservation of the natural, social and cultural values and the sustainable use of these resources at the service of the welfare of the populations.

History and Facts about MAB!

  • The St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve is the first Biosphere Reserve in the English Speaking Caribbean.
  • The certificate declaring St. Mary’s as a Biosphere Reserve was handed over to the Federation at the 36thSession of the UNESCO General Conference, in early November 2011. The St. Kitts – Nevis Man and the Biosphere National Committee was launched 5 months later on April 23rd, 2012.
  • The SMBR is approximately 4,297.125 hectares in size and is located about 4 miles from the Capital of Basseterre.
  • The SMBR has a ridge to reef topography that encompasses the communities of Canada, Keys and Cayon.

The SMBR is home to areas of interest such as: Historic Sugar Plantation Estate Ruins; Cayon Village Historic District; Maroon Settlements; Spooner’s Level & Cotton Ginnery; Bayford’s Historic Dairy Farm; Jack in the Box Mountain Passage; Cayon River Historic French/English Division, Keys Beach (St. Kitts main leatherback turtle nesting beach); and a Central Forest Reserve that is home to man.

Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme

proposes an interdisciplinary research agenda and capacity building that target the ecological, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss and the reduction of this loss;

combines natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods and safeguard ecosystems;

promotes innovative approaches to economic development that is socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable.

MAB & The World Network of Biosphere Reserves

Biosphere reserves: field tool for interdisciplinary MAB work with a triple function:

Conserve biological and cultural diversity
Several landscapes, ecosystems and habitats within St. Mary’s Parish have been identified as special ecological communities because of their national, regional or global conservation value.

Propose innovative approaches to sustainable development
The proposed biosphere reserve has tremendous potential to serve as a model in the nation and the Caribbean region for the promotion of sustainable economic and human development.

Promote research, monitoring, education and training
There is secure and robust logistical support for activities within the SMBR. This is strengthened by existing governmental, NGO, and community commitments that have already expressed their commitment to the SMBR nomination process.



Biosphere Reserves – Key Features

Zoning – means to meet the challenges of biodiversity management in multi-use areas with the objective of sustainable development.

Organizational/governance arrangements– enabling involvement of all actors in management and decision-making processes.  

New forms of institutional cooperation and links between different levels of economic and political decision making.