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Saint Kitts & Nevis

Location of the Project
Location of the Project

Title of IWEco National sub-Project

Addressing Impacts of Acute Land Degradation in the College Street Ghaut in St Kitts and Quarries and Sand Mining Hotspots on Nevis.


On St. Kitts, sandy loams which are highly erodible once exposed, dominate the island. The conversion of lands out of sugarcane and subsequent lack of soil conservation measures,has resulted in acute erosion in some places. This is particularly evident at the College Street Ghaut which runs through the Federation’s capital, Basseterre. The College Street Ghaut watershed covers 662 hectares; the main watercourse originates north of the Olivees Mountain and runs past the west of the airport runway, through to the city of Basseterre, discharging to the sea.

Saint Kitts & Nevis

The banks of the Ghaut have seen significant encroachment associated with agriculture and settlements along with the indiscriminate disposal of solid and liquid (grey waters) waste. The removal of protective vegetation has resulted in increased erosion rates from the river banks and across the upper reaches of the watershed. The result has been sedimentation of the river channel, heightening the risk of flooding and loss to life and property particularly within the lower watershed reaches that includes the city of Basseterre. Major flood events linked to land degradation and chronic sedimentation have been a frequent occurrence, with the last major event in summer 2013 causing an estimated US$120,000 in damages. With the encroachment of development also comes the increase in land-based pollution. Pollutant contributors include those associated with agriculture from fertilizer and other chemical applications, livestock rearing and effluent discharge, and from settlement areas in the form of grey and black water. Outfalls create a public health risk along the Bay Road, Basseterre coastline. There is also evidence of increasing sedimentation of the marine environment in the Basseterre Bay and some impacts to the coral reefs, which are prime recreational dive sites and thus foreign revenue earners.

On Nevis the issue of land degradation associated with poor quarry management practices needs to be dealt with urgently. Currently, quarries are the primary sources of sedimentation in the streams (ghauts), resulting in offshore reef degradation and the destruction of mangrove swamps. There are several seasonally active, privately operated quarries on the island, some which are on land leased from Government. Most of these operations do not implement measures to stabilize displaced overburden and mitigate the flushing of sediment into ghauts and into the marine environment during heavy rains. In addition to these quarries, numerous beaches are exploited for sand. High sedimentation rates have been occurring on Nevis reefs with potential impacts to the coastal fishery and dive operations. Prevailing coastal currents take silt from the quarries around to marine ecosystems on the west coast, resulting in the death of corals from siltation.

On St. Kitts the project interventions will focus on installation of soil conservation measures within the College Street Ghaut. These measures will include vetiver contour rows; piloting of onsite grey water treatment systems; a feasibility study for centralized collection and treatment of wastewater in the target area; installation of new and maintenance of existing gabion baskets inside the ghaut; stabilization and regular maintenance of existing retaining walls and bridges; and clearing of culverts, drains, outfalls and roads of debris and sediment along the ghaut.

On Nevis on-site investments will include stabilization of ghauts and water harvesting systems to reduce quarry run-off into the ocean; replanting of mangroves and other coastal plant species as a step towards restoration of coastal wetlands; coral reef restoration at New River, Indian Castle, Dogwood and Long Haul; and restoration and reforestation of one non-productive quarry area located at Hicks Estate and a vulnerable area downstream of active quarries at Coconut Walk.

For both islands the project will provide support for long-term sustainability and replication through policy, regulatory support, exchange of best practices.

The project will also contribute to forest cover rehabilitation over degraded areas and foster conservation of existing forests to maintain the integrity of ecosystem services over the College Street Ghaut watershed in St Kitts and across the eastern landscapes in Nevis where the majority of land degradation associated with quarrying is occurring. Further downstream, impacted mangroves and wetlands will also be restored. Through on-site land and forest cover investments at various sites within the target watershed areas on both islands, it is expected that an estimated 13,169.5 equivalent tonnes of CO2 over the life of the project, or an average of 2,633.9 tCO2eqv/year, will be sequestered.

Status of Project

The GEF-IWEco St. Kitts and Nevis national sub-project has completed all activities and will be closed by end-June 2024. The main activities have been land degradation control works in the College Street Ghaut in St. Kitts and reforestation activities in Nevis. 

The IWEco St. Kitts and Nevis Case Study describes achievements, project experience, lessons learned and best practices.


Project Objectives and Impact

Project Objectives and Impact

St. Kitts & Nevis National sub-Project Background

Please click here to download the Saint Kitts & Nevis National sub-Project Background document.

Progress and updates on St. Kitts & Nevis National sub-Project

National Focal Point

June Hughes
Department of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture

National Project Coordinator

Dr. Halla Sahely

St. Kitts and Nevis - Snapshots of Biodiversity:St. Kitts and Nevis Snapshots of Biodiversity poster

Poster introduction and Featured Species

download the poster

Compared with other Caribbean islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis have a relatively low forest cover, which is largely restricted to the steep central mountains.  Primary forests do exist at higher elevation; secondary forests are highly disturbed by human activity, particularly in lowland areas.  The terrestrial flora and fauna found in both islands includes numerous Lesser Antillean endemics, at least two confirmed national endemic species (two beetles, one is Nevis and one in St. Kitts), no endangered (E) or critically endangered (CR)-listed species, except those that are regarded extirpated (locally extinct, although present elsewhere) from St Kitts and Nevis.

Mangroves are found principally on the margins of salt ponds in St. Kitts and Nevis. In addition to protecting and stabilizing low-lying coastal lands they serve as feeding, breeding, and nursery grounds for a variety of fish, shellfish, birds, and other wildlife.

1. Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Scientific name: Nyctanassa violacea

Photo credit: Lynelle Bonaparte

Location: St. Kitts

Brief description: The yellow-crowned night heron, is a medium-sized heron, about 55-70cm in length at maturity, with a wingspan of 110cm. Males are slightly larger than females. Due to their dependency on aquatic organisms as their main food source, they can be found both inland and in coastal areas. In coastal areas, their preferred microhabitats for foraging include tidal marshes, beaches, tide pools and rocky shorelines. Inland, these include swamps, mangroves, rivers, ponds and shallow creeks (Watts, 1995). Foraging takes place mainly during the evening, however when breeding, activity peaks at dawn and dusk.

2. Strangler Fig

Scientific name: Ficus citrifolia

Photo credit: Halla Sahely

Location: St. Kitts

Brief description: The strangler fig is any of numerous species of tropical figs (genus Ficus, family Moraceae) named for their pattern of growth upon host trees, which often results in the host's death. Strangler figs and other strangler species are common in tropical forests throughout the world.

3. Hawksbill turtle

Scientific name: Eretmochelys imbricata

Photo credit: Jason Hanley

Location: St. Kitts

Brief description: The hawksbill diet is comprised almost entirely of sponges, with a small contribution by other invertebrates. Hawksbills serve as keystone predators in their coral reef habitat by maintaining biodiversity and determining the structure in coral reef ecosystems.

Hawksbills prefer the Caribbean side of the island for nesting but occasionally nest on the Atlantic side of the island each year. Hawksbills primarily nest on St. Kitts from July through February; however, sporadic nesting can occur year-round. Foraging hawksbills can be seen year-round in the near shore waters. 

4. Guadeloupe Big-eyed Bat

Scientific name: Chiroderma Improvisum

Photo credit: CYEN SKN / The Ripple Institute SKN

Location: St. Kitts

Brief description: The Guadeloupe Big-eyed Bat was documented in St. Kitts for the first time in 2016, although previously thought to only inhabit Guadeloupe and Montserrat. It is threatened by habitat loss and is listed as endangered.

5. Turks Cap Cactus

Scientific name: Melocactus intortus

Photo credit: Halla Sahely

Location: St. Kitts

Brief description: The Turks Cap is a solitary cactus that forms a small, rounded, well-armed stem and purplish pink flowers followed by bright red fruits. It is found in dry areas.

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