Country Profiles

Saint Kitts and Nevis - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Faunal species in St. Kitts and Nevis consist of native and migratory birds, reptiles, aquatic species and mammals. Migratory species are those which breed in other territories and migrate to habitats in St. Kitts and Nevis, mainly during the winter months. Bird watchers in the country have given accounts of over 130 species (including migratory species). Only a few mammal species exist in St. Kitts and Nevis, most of which were introduced. The African Green/Vervet Monkey was introduced by the French over 300 years ago as pets. Today it is estimated that the monkey population exceeds 50,000. Perhaps the most common mammals in St. Kitts and Nevis are bats.

There are several marine reptile species on St. Kitts and Nevis, some of which are regarded as endangered. These include the Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Leatherback Turtle. The Department of Fisheries and the St. Kitts Sea Turtles Monitoring Network have been working together to ensure that these species are conserved. The Ground and Green Lizards are endemic and extremely common on the islands. Giant and Common Woodslaves also are quite prevalent. While snakes are not common in St. Kitts and Nevis, largely because of the introduction of the mongoose, they are known to exist.

As with the mongoose, the Giant Toad was introduced in St. Kitts as an attempt to deal with a pest (grey backed cane beetles and rodents). The Browne Tree Frog is endemic to St. Kitts and Nevis and is cited mostly in moist forested areas. The Mountain Chicken or Crapaud also is believed to be native to St. Kitts and Nevis. There appears to be a resurgence of species following the closure of the sugar industry in 2005, particularly in rural wooded areas.

Generally, there is a lack of information on invertebrates in St. Kitts and Nevis. The invertebrate fauna, while greatly outnumbering the vertebrate animals in terms of number of species and orders, is only partially known.

Sponges and coral reefs are an integral part of the overall health of the marine environment. Coral reefs in St. Kitts and Nevis and the wider Caribbean are under threat due to ocean pollution, land-based sources of pollution, sand mining, overfishing, increased sea surface temperatures and storm damage.

During the 2013 National Consultation on the Economy, under the theme “The Green Economy as a viable pathway towards a sustainable future”, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis indicated that it was determined to make the country the World’s First Sustainable Island State and, to this end, called for the 2013 Rio +20 Conference to focus on the Green Economy.

The Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis has identified agriculture as a critical pillar of the ‘new’ and ‘green’ economy. The Ministry of Agriculture has already identified areas for commercial farming based on land capability analysis. Also, the Republic of China on Taiwan Agricultural Mission on St. Kitts has being promoting research on vegetable and tree crop production for several years with a focus on water conservation and the sharing the of technology among local farmers. This is expected to continue with the opening of the ‘new’ Agro-Tourism Demonstration Farm.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Threats to biodiversity are driven generally by a myriad of complex and intertwining factors manifested at different geographic scales and trophic levels. These forces have been categorized as: demographic changes; socio-economic factors; market-based factors; policy framework; and built developments. The following other factors pose immediate threats to the country’s biodiversity resources: private land ownership; climate change and sea level rise; invasive species and disease; unsustainable resource base; wild fires; ecosystem loss; pollution; and recreational pressure and human disturbance.

Notably, the decision of the Government of Kitts and Nevis to close the centuries old sugar industry in 2005 has resulted in a relatively vast acreage of unmanaged lands. While allocations have been made primarily for housing and non-sugar agriculture, rapid vegetation succession has been taking place. For the most part, the reversion from sugar cane to guinea grass and shrubbery has had negative consequences on the environment. Frequent bush fires disturb and threaten breeding and nesting sites for birds, monkeys, lizards and other fauna. The impact on human health (particularly asthma patients) is a major concern.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The revised NBSAP (2014-2020) was prepared in recognition of the fact that the targets, principles and priorities of the first NBSAP adopted in 2004 would have changed given the closure of the sugar industry in 2005, and the transformation of the country’s physical and economic landscapes. The new NBSAP also provided an opportunity for St. Kitts and Nevis to mainstream biodiversity in the overall development process by setting new targets, principles and priorities that are in line with the global framework.

The present NBSAP will focus on stronger institutional integration and identifies and examines how various provisions of key legislative, regulatory and policy instruments can better influence biodiversity management. It will also focus on broad sectoral participation (including public-private partnerships); strengthening the overall Implementation Plan; providing an enabling/facilitative environment on matters related to conservation, sustainable use, resource access and benefit-sharing; combining species management principles related to both invasive and alien species; raising awareness of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge and related access and benefit-sharing issues. Twelve national targets have been set and are mapped to relevant Aichi Biodiversity Targets with indicators developed for each.

The country’s first NBSAP (2004) was based on four thematic areas: socio-economic issues; tourism and biodiversity; marine and coastal biodiversity; and agricultural and forestry biodiversity. In general, it achieved mixed results. Its outcomes comprise: the conduct of a Country Poverty Assessment Survey in 2007-2008 which indicated that the incidence of abject poverty is trending downwards; an increase in the recognition of the value of traditional plans for medicinal purposes; the establishment of the Solid Waste Management Corporation; the development of policies to promote the orderly use of land, including EIAs for project approval; and the halting of the incidence of overgrazing on the South East Peninsula of St. Kitts due to the relocation of the animals.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

A stocktaking report on the biological diversity resources of the country has been prepared and incorporated in the revised NBSAP. The Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis has also conducted a comprehensive land valuation exercise however there is a need to streamline the pricing and incentives regime for land development.

The EIA procedure set out by the Development Control and Planning Board requires that consideration for biological diversity conservation be included in development project appraisal.

The country is in the final stages of a process for declaring Sandy Point Reef its first Marine Protected Area, in close consultation with the local community and various user groups. Additionally, there are ongoing management programmes that seek to protect marine endangered species (primarily the sea turtle). The Department of Maritime Resources works closely with the Sea Turtles Monitoring Network. The Government has also declared the Central Forest Range (CFR) as a protected area with management status. Plans are well on the way to declare the lower coastal section of the Basseterre Valley Aquifer as a Protected Area. Also, Nevis Peak has been effectively declared as a Protected Area based on an administrative order.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

St. Kitts and Nevis enacted its Biosafety Act in 2012. By 2016, St. Kitts and Nevis intends to have signed on to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization.

The country is currently carrying out activities to identify financial resources for supporting implementation of the revised NBSAP, including the development of a National Financial Strategy for NBSAP implementation and the inclusion of a budget line for NBSAP implementation in the budgetary allocations of the Ministry of Sustainable Development.

An Assessment of Capacity Building Needs and Country-specific Priorities in Biodiversity Management was undertaken in 2010, with the main objective to examine ex situ and in situ conservation strategies for national biodiversity resources.

Guidelines on mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into national development were developed as part of the preparatory process for the development of the NBSAP (2014-2020) for the following themes/sectors: poverty reduction, agriculture and rural development, environmental protection, land degradation, water resource management, marine resources management, land use planning and infrastructure, gender, health, and climate change adaptation.

Generally, the country has being implementing the national actions, policies and programmes set out in the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation. It is also a participant in the GEF-funded Project on Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems in the Caribbean SIDS, which is a follow on from the Integrating Watershed and Coastal Areas Management (GEF-IWCAM) Project; this project targets the College Ghaut Watershed and its outfall at the Basseterre waterfront.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Saint Kitts and Nevis intends to develop an NBSAP Implementation Plan to address various challenges to implementation. Issues related to monitoring and evaluation will be included among the several features of this Plan.