Jamaica Looking to Have Four Areas Declared Biosphere Reserves

Photo: Mark Bell Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange (right), speaks with Chair of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme National Committee, Joy Douglas. Occasion was the opening ceremony for the four-day Caribbean Small Island Developing States – Roadmap to Biosphere Nomination subregional MAB programme workshop, on Monday, March 19 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica is looking to have four areas declared as biosphere reserves under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme.
  • Biosphere reserves are terrestrial and coastal areas that promote sustainable development and act as learning sites where new and optimal practices to manage nature and human activities are tested and demonstrated.
  • As part of the nomination process, Jamaica is hosting a four-day subregional MAB programme workshop, which comprises representatives from the island, Guyana, Suriname, St. Kitts and Nevis, Belize, Curaҫao, and Sint Maarten.

Jamaica is looking to have four areas declared as biosphere reserves under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme.

The areas selected are Negril, Ocho Rios, Portland Bight and the Martha Brae/Rio Bueno rivers.

Biosphere reserves are terrestrial and coastal areas that promote sustainable development and act as learning sites where new and optimal practices to manage nature and human activities are tested and demonstrated.

They consist of protected zones that are restricted to human interference, a buffer zone where limited human activity is permitted, and a transition zone where greater activity is allowed. They have three main aims – conservation, economic development, and research and education.

As part of the nomination process, Jamaica is hosting a four-day subregional MAB programme workshop, which comprises representatives from the island, Guyana, Suriname, St. Kitts and Nevis, Belize, Curaҫao, and Sint Maarten.

The opening ceremony for the Caribbean Small Island Developing States – Roadmap to Biosphere Nomination subregional MAB workshop was held on Monday, March 19 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

Activities over the four days will include presentations by UNESCO experts, country presentations on proposed sites for biosphere nomination, preparation of the nomination dossier, and a tour of the Cockpit Country.

Coming out of these talks, three countries will be selected to submit nominations to UNESCO by September of this year to establish biosphere reserves. These will be added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).

Jamaica is seeking to be one of those selected with its nomination of four sites, which will also be used by UNESCO as tools for innovative projects to add value to local socio-economic activities.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, said Jamaica’s thrust to establish biosphere reserves is part of the Government’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

She expressed confidence in the capacity-building opportunities arising from the workshop to expedite the establishment of the reserves in Jamaica and across the region.

“Now more than ever, we must prepare ourselves and take the appropriate steps in the face of climate change. This (initiative) matters to each of us because of our high vulnerability to hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes. We have seen the effect that these adverse weather and other major events have had on our lives. We only need look back at the last hurricane season and the tremendous cost in lives and infrastructure,” she pointed out.

Chair of the MAB National Committee, Joy Douglas, said the programme provides an excellent model for land use planning and the man/land interface.

“Jamaica intends to be in the forefront of the MAB programme… . The four biosphere reserves that Jamaica will be putting forward are all important to the economic base of this country,” she noted.

Establishment of the MAB will involve the Ministries of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; Economic Growth and Job Creation; Local Government and Community Development, and Tourism.

MAB is an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.

The UNESCO MAB programme combines the natural and social sciences, economics and education to improve human livelihoods while safeguarding natural and managed ecosystems to promote economic development that is environmentally sustainable.

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