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

Organizational/governance arrangements

4.6 Organizational Structure

Organizational arrangement for the administration and management of the SMBR are foreseen and not presently in place at the proposed SMBR. Although conceived and crafted, such arrangements would be mobilized upon acceptance of the application for nomination. The organizational framework for administering and carrying out the functions of the biosphere reserve is crafted to necessarily include multiple stakeholders from local communities, public sector, non-governmental sector, and private sector. Sub-committees identified for the management of the biosphere reserve include:

  • Forest Core: Central Forest Reserve National Park - MAB
  • Coastal Core: Marine and Coral Reef Management Area - MAB
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Land Use Planning and Agriculture
  • Health, Infrastructure and Community Planning
  • Law and Enforcement
  • Public Relations and Communication
  • Education and Training
  • Youth Relations
  • Tourism
  • Finances and Fundraising

Existing arrangements for programmes, projects, and services within the reserve and associated communities include a range of public authorities, local communities, and private interests. Collaborative arrangements for undertaking land use decisions and management of resources are not uncommon within the SMBR. Examples abound including the efforts to identify lands for agricultural expansion and community outreach activities of the SKSTMN turtle monitoring and tagging. One indication of a commitment to multi-stakeholder involvement by proponents of this SMBR nomination is the effort requested by government, demanded by community stakeholders, and executed by the MAB committee and consultants to include inhabitants of local biosphere reserve throughout the process of determining boundaries and informing the nomination form.

4.7 Mechanisms for Implementation

The SMBR has existing and planned mechanisms to manage human use and activities in the Buffer Zone. Both terrestrial and marine Core Areas and the majority of the Buffer Zone are under the ownership of the Government of St. Kitts. This situation enables efficient decision making in land use decisions due to the relatively small number of stakeholders involved. In other areas under private and municipal ownership, coalitions of private, public, and NGO interests form existing organizations such as the SKSTMN and village councils to reconcile issues. Traditional social norms and mores also foster cohesion, sanction particular activities, and carry out punishment of perpetrators on an informal but recognized level. In general, application of an agreed upon future management plan should be supported by the community, given the current and widespread support for the SMBR and the steps toward community inclusion in decision making related to it.

The Core Zones fall under existing protection regimes of the state; however, the development of specific MAB-related protection is pending the acceptance of this nomination. The St. Christopher National Conservation and Environment  Protection Act (NCEPA) of 1987 is the basic mechanism to “provide for the better management and development of the natural and historic resources for purposes of conservation; the establishment of national parks, historic and archaeological sites and other protected areas of natural or cultural importance.” (GoSKN, 1987). In NCEPA No. 5 of 1987 Part II, Section 4(a) through 4 (d) states protection objectives and classes of sites all of which can be justified to support the establishment, conservation and management of all zones within the biosphere reserve.

Existing mechanisms such as those provided under the (2007), Department of Environment (1996), and Fisheries Act (1984) regulate land use in the proposed Core Areas and Buffer Zones.
Additionally, the National Conservation and Environment Protection Act of 1987 and amendments promote conservation of Buffer Zone features such as historic sites and areas of special concern including ghauts.

Other mechanisms apply In areas of the Buffer Zone under more intense land uses and in closer proximity to villages. In the National Development Control and Planning Act (NDCPA) of 2000, there are at least four institutions with overlapping mandates in land administration in St. Kitts. The main institution for the development and control of land is supposed to be the Development Control and Planning Board (DCPB). Under the aegis of the NDCPA the Development Control Planning Board has the authority to grant permits for the development of land.  However, the DCPB’s permission does not extend to agricultural lands, which remain the clear mandate of the Ministry of Agriculture (GoSKN, 2006).  In regards to the coastal zone, NDCPA Section 66 establishes public right to access and recreational use of all beaches.

Management Plan/ Policy

The management plan is the outgrowth of the SMBR Vision Statement and SMBR Organizational Structure and Board. The Vision Statement conveys the desire for an evolving process rather than a static state:

The ongoing renewal of a sense of place by inhabitants of the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve  that results in ridge-to-reef environmental protection and  fosters sustainable development and education, improved livelihoods, and the conservation of natural resources through enhancement and celebration of the rich cultural and natural heritage of the reserve.

An open and original management planning framework would establish practical and workable strategies to deal with the wide scope of environment situation, stakeholders, and interest groups included in the SMBR as well as to fulfil the conservation, development, and educational objectives of the reserve.  The crucial elements of a management plan and executing body would be assembled upon acceptance of this biosphere reserve nomination. The SMBR Management Plan would consist of the following elements:

Background Profile of the SMBR

  • Environment Background
  • Cultural Background

Cooperation Plan

  • Environment Background
  • Institutional Framework
  • SMBR Board
  • Stakeholder Involvement and Participation Plan
  • Facilities and Infrastructure
  • Financial Plan with Self Sustainability Strategies

Conservation Function

  • Boundaries and Zoning
  • Coastal Management Plan– MAB Plan
  • Turtle Management Plan
  • Central Forest Reserve National Park – MAB Plan
  • Scenic Resources Plan
  • Buffer Zone Threat Management Plan

Development Function

  • Economic Action Plan
  • NGO Project Development Action Plan
  • Government Infrastructure and Planning Plan

Logistics Support Function

  • Research Plan
  • Monitoring Plan
  • Education, Training, and Outreach Plan
  • External Relations and Networking Plan

The SMBR organizational framework would be based on the successful and widely-known National Emergency Organization framework that links the communities of the biosphere reserve with the Prime Minister of St. Kitts through the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve Executive, Board, and Sub-Committees. Consisting of Community, Government, NGO, and Private Organization Experts, the Sub-Committees would foster the involvement of SMBR village members in the decision making process.

SMBR Sub-Committees include:

  • Forest Core: Central Forest Reserve National Park - MAB
  • Coastal Core: Marine and Coral Reef Management Area - MAB
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Land Use Planning and Agriculture
  • Health, Infrastructure and Community Planning
  • Law and Enforcement
  • Public Relations and Communication
  • Education and Training
  • Youth Relations
  • Tourism
  • Finances and Fundraising

In the short term, the proposed management plan intends to:

  • Establish a SMBR Board and rules surrounding its functions
  • Disseminate information about the SMBR
  • Disseminate information about MAB and UNESCO
  • Elicit project and funding source ideas
  • Develop and distribute a list of research topics with resource management and sustainable development focus
  • Inspire community excitement about SMBR
  • Develop and pass legislation to protect the terrestrial and marine Core Areas

In the longer term, the proposed management plan hopes to attain short term goals and continue to achieve results that:

  • Increase environmental education among all residents
  • Increase ecotourism tourism-based revenue and its community wide multiplier effect
  • Improve public services in the communities of the SMBR
  • Develop conflict management strategies for resolution of resource and land use conflicts
  • Protect turtle nest habitat through enforcement of law and remediation of damage
  • Remediate environmental damage to Greatheeds Salt Pond through enforcement of law for quarry and nearby development
  • Reduce dumping in the Buffer Zone
  • Direct research on species of concern throughout the SMBR


The St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve Organizational Structure, Managing Bodies, and Management Plan would be enacted by government mandate and community cooperation following acceptance of this nomination. Until that time, the principle entities authorized to implement features of the plan that are copasetic with existing mandates include the Department of Physical Planning and Environment and the Department of Fisheries. The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis National Committee of UNESCO presently and prospectively offers oversight and guidance.

Land use decisions would be recommended by the St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve Board and enacted by government mandate with the guidance of the Department of Physical Planning and Environment and negotiated with communities and private interests in parts of the Buffer Zones with areas outside of public landholdings. The SMBR Board, government liaisons, and legal advisors would negotiate land use and development rights agreements with Private owners and Village Councils. It is foreseen that large decisions would be determined after advertised, community consultation. The creation of sub-committees such as Health, Infrastructure and Community Planning; Public Relations and Communication; Education and Training; and Youth Relations indicates the intention to closely involve the SMBR communities in the SMBR organizational framework.