Sixth National Report
Section I. Information on the targets being pursued at the national level
Target 1. By 2020, an increased percentage of Kittitians and Nevisians are aware of the values of biodiversity, and understand the steps they can take to conserve and use biodiversity sustainably. ()
The reason this was defined as one of our National Targets is that at the time of the drafting of our NBSAP, there was recognition of a general lack of public awareness regarding the severity of numerous environmental problems, the impact of our actions on the environment, and actions we could take to reduce negative impacts on the environment. There was lack of full awareness regarding the environmental impact caused by wastes (including plastics), unsustainable natural resource use, and the impact of climate change on biodiversity.
This Target was included in our most recent National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (attached). The development of the 2014-2020 NBSAP was spearheaded by the Department of Physical Planning and Environment (which in 2015 was split into the Department of Physical Planning and the Department of Environment) within the Ministry of Sustainable Development with technical support from a Biodiversity Steering Committee (established for the revision of the NBSAP) and a consultant team from the Island Planning Service (IPS), a private company in St. Kitts. The Steering Committee was comprised of 25 members including representation from Government entities (Department of Physical Planning and Environment, Water Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Marine Resources, Department of Fisheries/Nevis, Department of Environmental Health, the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College, the Solid Waste Management Corporation, Economic Affairs & PSIP, the Parks and Beaches Unit, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. Two NGOs also participated (St. Christopher National Trust and the Nevis Historical & Conservation Society) as well as the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme in SKN. Private Sector participants included a tour operator. Academic and Research institutions included the local college, the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC). An inception meeting to discuss the NBSAP was held in October, 2013. The GEF and UNEP provided financial and technical support for the development of the revised NBSAP.
Target 3. By 2020, the Ministry of Sustainable Development will have an increased role in the granting of incentives to activities based on biodiversity related sustainability principles. ()
There were few incentives to motivate conservation of biodiversity. In addition to a strong and meaningful regulatory framework, it is important to offer meaningful conservation incentives for all (including private landowners).
Document attached elsewhere in this report.
Target 4. By 2020, fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed, harvested sustainably and the Marine Management Area has been formally declared. ()
Fish and invertebrate stocks are essential to the wellbeing of the people of SKN and are an essential part of its BD. The Target was developed to ensure that fishing practices would not result in the decline of important fisheries or an imbalance in species composition and diversity. No Marine Management Areas existed in SKN at the time the National Target was developed. SKN participates in the Caribbean Challenge which specifies that at least 20% of the marine environment should be included in some form of protected area.
This National Target is included in the 2014-2020 NBSAP (page 70).
Target 5. By 2020, areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity. ()
At the time this National Target was identified, the Government policy was to encourage alternative forms of agriculture as the sugar industry had closed (in 2006) and there was much unused agricultural land on both islands. No aquaculture was being practiced yet there were fisherfolk who may have preferred not to go to sea but no options existed at the time. Conservation of the forests was key to ensure water supplies and biodiversity. Some degree of tourism is also dependent on healthy forests.
This National Target was included in the 2014-2020 NBSAP (page 71).
Target 6. By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity and appropriate Waste Management Plans are developed. ()
There was an obvious issue with plastic and other forms of pollution washing up on SKN shores. It was estimated that 80% of the land-based single-use plastics ended up in the sea. There were also serious pollution issues resulting from the inadequate College Ghaut and the outfall into the sea. SK was participating in a GEF-funded project "Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems in the Caribbean SIDS" and this provided a good opportunity to assist the country in pursuing a target to reduce pollution.
This National Target was included in the 2014-2020 NBSAP.
Target 7. By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction. ()
Several invasive species were causing problems on SKN. These included the Lionfish which had the potential for reducing native fish stocks if not controlled, the recent introduction of an invasive seagrass species which was choking out the native seagrass in some areas, the increasing number of non-native vervet monkeys on Nevis which were negatively affecting the ability of farmers to produce agricultural products. There was need to take actions to control these invasives to conserve the native biodiversity and to allow a variety of natural resource-based livelihoods to persist.
This National Target was included in the 2014-2020 NBSAP.
Target 8. By 2020, the anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs and other vulnerable coastal ecosystems impacted by climate change are minimized. ()
The health of the country's coral reefs and other sensitive coastal ecosystems is critical to the survival and health of many marine resources upon which SKN is dependent. There was some evidence that coral reef health was suffering. There was also evidence that other coastal ecosystems such as wetlands and mangroves were being lost.
This National Target was included in the 2014-2020 NBSAP (page 73).
Target 9. By 2020, at least one marine and one additional terrestrial area will be formally declared and appropriate management plans are operationalized. ()
Experience around the world clearly indicates that although some BD resources can be adequately protected outside of PAs, including adequate size areas of all ecosystems represented in a country as well as adequate habitat for rare, threatened and endangered and endemic species within PAs is critical to long-term BDC. Establishing effective corridors to enable movement and genetic exchange between PAs is also important. A Protected Area System Plan for SKN was developed in 2010. The plan indicated that gaps existed in terms of ecosystems coverage (not all ecosystems were adequately covered within PAs). Only 3 PAs had been legally declared at the time of the 5NR. All of these were terrestrial. There were no marine PAs. Moreover, it was recognized that even if adequate size areas of representative ecosystems were included within PAs, without adequate management of these areas they could not achieve their conservation objective. All of the existing PAs had management plans but none were with active management. There were no rangers or conservation officers dedicated to PAs and no Government budget assigned to PAs management.
This National Target was included in the 2014-2020 NBSAP (page 74).
Target 10. By 2016, St. Kitts and Nevis would have signed on to the Nagoya Protocol on ‘Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization’. ()
There was no legislative or regulatory framework in place regarding access to genetic resources or benefit-sharing. SKN is signatory to the Convention on Biodiversity but had not yet ratified the Nagoya Protocol.
This National Target was included in the 2014-2020 NBSAP (pages 74-75).
Target 11. By 2015, the revised National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) has been completed and adopted as a policy instrument and is been implemented with broad sectoral participation. ()
A NBSAP had been prepared in 2004 but needed to be updated according to normal good practice and seeing as how the situation in the country had significantly changed over the past decade.
Target 12. By 2015, the financial resources for supporting the revised NBSAP implementation have been identified including direct budgetary allocations. ()
It was recognized that no matter what strategies and plans might exist or be developed in future, without the financial resources to support the implementation of those plans and strategies, these would simply remain as such. Implementation depended on identifying and securing adequate financial resources including both Government funds as well as external resources.
This National Target was included in the 2014-2020 NBSAP (page 76).
Target 2. By 2020, St. Kitts and Nevis would have completed an evaluation of its biodiversity resources. ()
The first published record regarding the vegetation of St. Kitts and Nevis was in 1949 (Beard, J. S. 1949. The natural vegetation of the Windward and Leeward Islands. Clarendon Press. Oxford, UK.). A biodiversity profile for St. Kitts and Nevis (see attached) was prepared fifty years later (in 1999 and revised in 2000). The Biodiversity Profile was designed to highlight environmental conditions in St. Kitts-Nevis as they pertain to the conservation of terrestrial biological resources on the two islands. As such, the profile represented a thematic refinement and partial updating of the 1990 "Country Environmental Profile: St. Kitts and Nevis" (see attached), by the Caribbean Conservation Association and Island Resources Foundation, which dealt with a broader range of natural, historical, cultural, land estimate the extents of land cover and protected forest by formation for five islands and ask how land cover has changed over the second half of the 20th century. use, pollution control, and institutional factors. The 1999/2000 Biodiversity Profile was complemented by the 1999published "A Vegetation Classification of St. Kitts and Nevis: Implications for Conservation" (see attached), which provided an up-to- date measure for that time of the underlying vegetation communities and associations of the islands. A study in 2008 (see attached) estimated the extents of land cover and protected forest by formation for five islands including SKN and assessed how land cover had changed over the second half of the 20th century. Although all of the aforementioned provide valuable information, many years had passed since these were prepared. No updated evaluation of the biodiversity of St Kitts and Nevis was therefore available at the time of the 5NR submission in 2014.
This National Target was included in the NBSAP for 2014-2020 (attached earlier). See page 70.
Section II. Implementation measures, their effectiveness, and associated obstacles and scientific and technical needs to achieve national targets
Measure: Legally Declare Marine Management Area (MMA)
The 2 mile radius around SKN was legally declared as a Marine Management Area (MMA) in 2016. Management plans for its various zones (fishing, conservation, recreation, transportation) are being developed and are expected to be finalized by 2020. Three areas (Sandy Point, Keys, and the Narrows) totaling 11,693 hectares within the MMA have been declared as "conservation zones" to protect the coral reefs, seagrass beds, fish stocks and other aquatic life (including the Spiny Lobster and the Queen Conch) that depend on these areas.
A marine biodiversity assessment was conducted in the three Conservation Zones in 2017/18 led by the U.K.-based "Envision Mapping". Marine Conservation Officers were involved in the effort which served to enhance their capacity to do scientific research and monitoring. The inventory involved video surveys and dives. The inventory will be an important input to the development of the management plans for the three Conservation Zones.
The DMR has identified entities who may be interested in financially supporting the implementation of the management plans (once finalized) for the various zones within the MMA. Initial discussions have taken place with Blue Finance and others. The DMR is waiting until management plans are finalized before further pursuing financing for these and other areas within the MMA.
The effectiveness of this measure is unknown at present because although the MMA has been legally declared, the management plan for the MMA has not yet been developed. Management plans for three Conservation Zones within the MMA are currently under development but have not been finalized. Without management plans in place, implementation of activities has been limited. Nevertheless, the enhanced awareness related to the MMA resulting from its legal establishment and from the process of developing the various Conservation Zone management plans (which has entailed extensive stakeholder consultations) has likely already contributed somewhat to more effective conservation of the MMA but this is unknown as no specific indicators are in place to assess how effective establishment of the MMA has been in terms of conserving marine biodiversity.
Effectiveness of the MMA will depend on how well the management plans for the various zones within the MMA are implemented (once finalized). This in turn will depend on financing available to enhance even further the capacity of the entity responsible for the management of the area, the Department of Marine Resources. Thus one important possible obstacle related to this measure is capacity to implement the management plan.
Measure: Expand Protected Areas Coverage and Improve Management of Protected Areas
Actions Taken Prior to the Submission of the Fifth National Report (5NR) in 2014
A total of 3 terrestrial PAs and no marine PAs had been legally established as of the time of submission of the Fifth National Report (5NR) to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). The Central Forest Reserve National Park (CFRNP) was legally established in 2011. This is an area of 12,504 acres (5,060 ha) in the central region of St. Kitts including all land above the 1,000 feet contour and is intended to protect the last stands of undisturbed tropical rainforest on St. Kitts. The Royal Basseterre Valley National Park 494 acres (200 ha) had also been legally established to protect the country’s main aquifer. St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve, located on the island of St. Kitts and an important site in terms of biological diversity, comprising cloud forests, mangroves and coral reefs, was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 2011. St. Mary’s is known as one of the first Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean and serves as an example of village participation in efforts to preserve the outstanding mosaic of natural and cultural landscape values. The Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park World Heritage site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, and is of particular historical, cultural and architectural significance. Another area of 8031 acres (3,250 ha) on the island of Nevis (the Nevis Peak National Park and Camps River Watershed Area) was proposed as a PA in 2008 to protect the forest but was not legally declared. In addition, although not all of the area is included in a PA, all land on both St. Kitts and Nevis above the 1,000-foot contour is managed so as to restrict construction activity as a strategy to protect forest cover and the health of the country’s watersheds.
Actions Taken From 2014 to Present
PA Coverage Increased:
The area of terrestrial ecosystems under protection as “protected areas” has not increased from 5,260 ha (not including Frigate Bay). The Frigate Salt Pond was legally declared as a PA in 2014. It protects critical habitat for numerous bird species.
Two new terrestrial PA has been proposed and one has been legally declared since the submission of the 5NR. These are Booby Island Nature Reserve 741 acres (300 ha) and the Nevis Peak National Park and Camps River Watershed Area 8031 acres (3,250 ha). Booby Island is a 494 acre (300 ha) bird nesting site (IUCN Category IA) which was proposed as a Nature Reserve in 2014. Stakeholder consultations have been completed regarding this proposed PA and in 2017 the Department of Environment has submitted the draft of the revised National Conservation and Environment Management Bill to the Legal Department and in this Bill Booby Island will be declared a Nature Reserve once its enacted.
The area of marine ecosystems under protection as “protected areas” has increased from 0 hectares in 2014 to 22,069 acres (11,693 ha) today. In 2016, an area including a 2-mile radius around St. Kitts and Nevis was declared as a “Marine Management Area” with the passing of the Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Resources Act (FAMRA). Three areas (Sandy Point, Keys and The Narrows) totaling 11,693 ha within this zone have been declared as “Conservation Zones” to protect the coral reefs, seagrass beds, fish stocks and other aquatic life that depend on these areas including the Spiny lobster and the Queen Conch.
Management Plans for PAs Developed/Updated:
The Central Forest Reserve, Royal Basseterre Valley National Park and Nevis Peak National Park and Camps River Watershed Areas Terrestrial Protected Areas (TPAs) have management plans written in 2010. These are currently being updated as part of the ongoing Conserving Biodiversity project. Management plans are also being developed for the three newly defined "Conservation Zones" within the Marine Management Area (MMA) under the same project. In addition, the Department of Marine Resources is seeking financial support to develop a management plan for the entire MMA.
Research Conducted to Gain Information Regarding Biodiversity within PAs:
Research and ecological inventories and marine biodiversity assessments are described under a separate measure in this report.
Institutional Capacity to Manage PAs increased:
Five new Park Rangers have been hired (3 on St. Kitts and 2 on Nevis). They are responsible for the Central Forest Reserve National Park, Booby Island, Royal Basseterre Valley National Park, Nevis Peak National Park and Camps River Watershed Area (proposed) and are based at Central Forest Reserve National Park and at Nevis Peak National Park. All five Rangers are currently paid by the GEF-financed Conserving Biodiversity (CB) project. Their salaries are to be taken up by Government by end of 2019, the last year of the project.
Four Marine Conservation Officers and two Beach Conservation Officers (responsible for outreach, Public awareness, monitoring, , and engage in beach profiling) and a Boat Captain have been hired with CB project funds. Recurrent costs associated with these newly-established positions are to be assumed by Government in the last year of the project (2019). (See Measure related to Sustainable Financing for more detail on this subject.)
All Terrestrial and Marine Rangers/Conservation Officers have received a significant amount of training through the CB Project including: First Aid, Protected Areas legislation, map reading, tour guiding, artifacts, introduction to botany, introduction to forestry, law enforcement, communications, fire safety, VHF radio handling and communications, Protected Areas management and planning, importance of protected areas, conflict and dispute resolution, community empowerment and outreach, Heritage & Culture, search and rescue, safety at sea, and leadership. The two Beach Conservation Officers and 4 Marine Conservation Officers have been trained in water quality monitoring and beach profiling and are now involved in sea turtle monitoring and water quality monitoring.
In addition to enhancing the staffing capacity, new equipment has been purchased which enhances the ability of both Departments to more effectively manage the Protected Areas and Conservation Zones under their jurisdiction. A 33 foot research and monitoring vessel has been purchased (through the Conserving Biodiversity Project) which will enable continued research and monitoring. It underwent repairs as it arrived in country damaged. It was commissioned in October 2018 and is vested to the Department of Marine Resources. Two four-wheel drive pick-up trucks and a passenger bus were also purchased in 2016. Other equipment purchased includes binoculars, GPS Units, camera, computers, printer, medical supplies, dive equipment, scientific equipment, water quality monitoring equipment, VHF radio equipment and antennas, ICT database and software for data management and office equipment.
Institutional Oversight of PAs Decided:
The Department of Environment was the sole entity responsible for PA management at the time of the 5NR but there was no specific unit or staff dedicated to PAs. With the establishment of marine conservation zones, it was decided that the Department of Marine Resources would be responsible for the MMA (including the three Conservation Zones) and that the Department of Environment DOE would be responsible for the terrestrial PAs. It was also decided that no new institutional structure would be established but rather that Units within each department would be formed which would provide oversight of all Protected Area and Conservation Zones (terrestrial and marine). The composition of each Unit has been agreed and the Department of Environment is to initiate the formalization of the new Unit anticipated in 2019.
Indicators were established by the CB project and these indicators serve as a good basis for assessing the effectiveness of these measures. The indicators include:
Area of terrestrial ecosystems under protection. The land area within PA status at project start in 2014 (the baseline) was 12,506 acres (5,260 ha) not including Frigate Bay. The target was to include 8,810 ha of land within protected areas by 2019. There has been no increase to date.
A second indicator was the area of marine ecosystems under protection. The area at project start (the baseline) was 0. There were no Marine protected areas at the time. The target was to include 28,894 acres (11,693 ha) in some form of protected status. To date 28,894 acres (11,693 ha) have been designated as Marine Management Area/Conservation Zones.
The CB project also includes impact-indicators such as % live hard coral cover, % dead hard coral cover, number of coral recruits, seagrass bed health, and health of selected reef fish stocks as measured by abundance and species diversity. Unfortunately, these are not currently being measured so there is no way to assess their achievement.
Marine Inventory/Assessment Report (Under preparation through Biodiversity Conservation GEF-financed Project. Not yet available. Will be uploaded once available.)
Terrestrial Inventory/Assessment Report (Under preparation through Biodiversity Conservation GEF-financed Project. Not yet available. Will be uploaded once available.)
6 site-based financing plans (Under preparation through Biodiversity Conservation GEF-financed Project. Will be uploaded once prepared.)
The country is still in a learning phase about PAs (including understanding their purpose and importance). Lack of full awareness regarding the purpose and importance of PAs may be an obstacle related to this measure.
Although the CB Project has certainly enhanced the capacity of Rangers and others working in the protected areas, there are no professionals specifically educated in PA planning, management or biodiversity conservation. Lack of adequate capacity, specifically scientific and technical capacity related to protected areas management, may pose an obstacle to this measure.
At present, Rangers do not have authority to issue tickets or fine persons breaking the law within PAs, thus enforcement may be problematic. Lack of enforcement capacity may pose an obstacle to this measure.
Measure: Improve Legislative Framework for Protected Areas (National Conservation and Environmental Management Bill)
According to a Cabinet memorandum, in recognition that "conserving biodiversity can be achieved primarily through the implementation of legislation to govern the management and regulation of specific protected areas within the country. It was therefore proposed and accepted that the existing National Conservation and Environmental Protection Act of St. Kitts and Nevis be repealed and replaced with the National Conservation and Environmental Management Bill". The new NCEM Bill places greater focus on protected areas and makes provision for a management structure as well as dedicated financial resources for protected areas.
The original intent was to form a "Protected Areas Agency (PAA) which would function as an independent statutory body having all the rights, powers and privileges vested in it. Under the Bill, the agency would function initially as a division of the Department of Environment but overtime, would have legal status and govern its own affairs. The intention was to have the Protected Areas Agency be a self-financing body and thus be truly independent of government. An environment fund was also proposed under the Bill to be managed by a Board of Councilors under a Foundation structure and the moneys of the Foundation used solely for environmental projects of all nature throughout the Federation. Since the drafting of the Cabinet memo in 2017, it has been decided that no new institutional structure will be developed. Instead, the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) will be responsible for managing Marine Management Areas (MMAs) and the Department of Environment (DOE) will be responsible for managing Terrestrial Protected Areas (TPAs). A "Marine Sustainable Use Unit" will be established within DMR and a "Parks and Protected Areas Unit will be established within the DOE. Although these have not yet been formally established, the system is operational.
In addition to matters related to PAs, according to the Cabinet memorandum, provisions relating to soil conservation, sand mining, wetlands management and protection, pollution, and dealings with antiquities are just a few of the areas that received extensive review and enhancement under the (new) NCEM Bill.
NCEM is still a Bill. It has not yet been approved by Cabinet or enacted by Parliament.
Obstacles related to this measure may include the ability to secure sufficient sustainable financing to enable full implementation of the new NCEM bill.
Measure: Develop Regulations and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Protected Areas
Protected Areas regulations were developed and were finalized in February, 2017. These regulations include prescribed categories for protected areas, zoning of protected areas, access to protected areas, management authority of protected areas, co-management of protected areas, the development and review of management plans for protected areas, general prohibitions related to protected areas, enforcement including duties and powers of Park Rangers and Conservation Officers, amongst other things. The final regulations are attached below.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) related to the management of Protected Areas were also developed and were finalized in August, 2017. SOPs were developed related to the role of Rangers and Conservation Officers, nature tourism, the conduct of stakeholder consultations related to protected areas, planning for protected areas and protected species and international obligations related to these. The final SOPs are attached below.
The development of regulations and SOPs for Protected Areas is an important measure that will contribute to more effective implementation of Protected Area management plans.
The effectiveness of the regulations and SOPs cannot be assessed at present as these have not yet been officially adopted and thus implementation has not begun. Nevertheless, their development represents a critical and important step forward in improving the management of Protected Areas.
One obstacle which may present itself according to some Park Rangers interviewed is that they do not have the authority to arrest/detain persons who they may find breaking the law. Rather, they must contact the Police if warranted but the Police are not always readily available. Thus their ability to enforce the new regulations may be limited.