The Banana Industry Trust and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries are this week calling for national support for the adoption of the National Action Plan and Strategic Action Plan (NAP/SAP) to Combat Desertification and Drought for St. Lucia. Since signing the 1997 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, St. Lucia still continues to be faced with challenges with land degradation and drought-like conditions, particularly in watersheds with high agricultural activity.
Chief Forestry Officer, Michael Andrew explained that “It is estimated that soil loss is as much as 25 to 63 tons per hectare per year for some of the larger watershed and approximately 300,000 tons annually due to banana cultivation alone. For every ton of bananas produced, some 2 to 3 tons of soil is lost. Almost half of this erosion is due to cultivation on steep slopes which has increased sedimentation of waterways and the dwindling of the islands water resources.” The government will attempt to combat the effects of years of environmentally harmful practices such as slash and burn, down slope tilling, absence of contouring and excessive land clearing, which have left “indelible scars on the landscape, and negatively influenced the lives of thousands of inhabitants.”
Exposed land is the most vulnerable to drought. Managing the EU SFA2003 program, which financed the NAP/SAP, BIT’s Executive Officer Bertram Clarke says that forest land and protected water sources stand a better change at weathering drought conditions, adding, “We cannot prevent drought but we can mitigate the effects of drought.”
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