Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO, Antonio Maynard says the show of support from the Keys and Cayon community in the St Mary’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Reserve Project is another of several positive attributes making it ideal for development as a premier Eco Tourism attraction.

The Secretary General said several enquiries came in following a recent town hall meeting to familiarize the community and other stakeholders which lead him to believe that his organization would receive the necessary assistance in seeing the project come to fruition.

Community activist Telca Wallace gave an overview of the Man and the Biosphere Project which is the first of its kind in the English Speaking Caribbean having been established on April 23 of 2012. Meanwhile, Dr Kimberly Stuart of the Sea Turtle Monitoring Agency gave a full description of activities specific to the Keys Beach area with the nesting of turtles.

Participants in the Town Hall meeting were given concrete proof of activities being conducted to advance the project including the start of field trips to attractions; the securing of funds to erect an interpretative centre for sea turtle conservation exercises at Keys Village; as well as plans for a quantitative study to highlight views of sustainable development and conservation among local community residents.

Also planned is the conceptualization of a public relations awareness programme within the framework of the project proposal to brand the area and create a model for the rest of the Eastern Caribbean.

Special mention was made of the intention to make the Cayon River a site for clean up and study with emphasis on the mountain to seashore component of the reserve.

Minister of Education and Information Nigel Carty stressed Government’s support for the success of this project, highlighting its impact on the empowerment of the populace through opportunities such as ecotourism, organic farming, fruit and vegetable processing, and legal sand mining among others.

The minister added that Government has fully embraced the project because its viability stems from a richly bio-diverse area. Mangroves, coral reefs, turtle nesting and cloud forests are a few of the features which make it outstanding.

Several concerns which were raised by persons in the community which could impact the Biosphere project including illegal sand mining and dumping of garbage at the Cayon Ghaut brought about renewed commitment from participants in the town hall meeting to become vigilant and to raise community awareness.

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