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Saint Lucia

Location of Project
Location of Project

Title of IWEco National sub-Project:

Addressing Problems of Land Degradation and Ecosystem Degradation in the Upper Reaches of the Soufriere Watershed in Saint Lucia.

Introduction

The Soufriere Watershed, site of Saint Lucia’s IWEco Project, with an estimated area of 17.2 sq. km, is located within the west central part of Saint Lucia and is characterised by very rugged, steep terrain. It is drained by the Soufriere River, which originates in the upper reaches of Mingy, the area that is the focus of on-the-ground interventions under IWEco.

Saint Lucia

The watershed has three water intakes and a catchment that serves Fond St. Jacques and the other communities in the upper reaches of the watershed, as well as Choiseul, in the neighbouring watershed. The adjacent coastal area has a relatively small valley floor.

More than 90% of the land in the watershed is privately owned and over time has become more and more fragmented, presenting challenges for management and sustainable development. Between the 125 and 250m elevations, the landscape is forest intensive mixed agriculture with production of short term and tree crops. Root crops, especially dasheen (Colocasiaesculenta), are grown above 250m elevation and many of the existing farms are scattered within the natural and/or scrub forest.

The coastal/marine area is one of steep submarine shelf, which has been designated as the Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA) and forms the marine component of the world-renowned World Heritage Site (WHC), Piton Management Area, PMA. The reefs within this area are some of the healthiest and most diverse on the island but are under increasingly under threat because of high incidence of sediment and nutrient loading, solid and liquid waste.

Degradation of coastal water quality, rapid depletion of nearshore resources, poor land use practices and poor resource management, along with growing conflicts among stakeholders, are ongoing issues in the Soufriere watershed, an area that has traditionally been the eco-tourism Mecca of Saint Lucia. In addition to the abundance of natural assets, Soufriere, and in particular the Fond St. Jacques area, was traditionally referred to as the breadbasket of the island because the volcanic soils and abundant rainfall provide a good fertile environment for the cultivation of short-term food and tree crops, especially cocoa.

The IWEco Saint Lucia Project aims to mitigate the poor biophysical conditions within the Soufriere region through targeted innovative, climate-change resilient approaches; strengthening the monitoring indicator framework, capacity building; and knowledge sharing.

Status of Project

The Project officially started on 30th November 2017 and is being implemented over a three-year period, ending in October 2020. The Inception Workshop took place in January 2018 in Fond St. Jacques, Soufriere. Stakeholders were encouraged to take ownership of the project and lessons learnt from past initiatives undertaken in the upper reaches of the Soufriere Watershed were shared. The importance of the project to Fond St. Jacques and environs, noting the devastation which occurred after the passage of Hurricane Tomas in 2010, was stressed.

IWEco seeks to address the problems of land degradation and ecosystem degradation in the upper reaches of the Soufriere Watershed through rehabilitation of lands, provision of alternative sustainable livelihoods, capacity building and public awareness.

Seventy-five farms representing 22 hectares have been assessed by individuals trained and hired from the local community. These assessments have informed customized restoration plans. The required plants are being provided by a community nursery established by the Project and which presently holds 10,000 fruit and forest trees. Over 4,000 plants have been planted on denuded slopes and along vulnerable riverbanks. In addition, discussions have started on a community forestry programme which will include the creation of a forest park with only native forest species.

To ensure that farmers and other community members are provided with more sustainable livelihood alternatives that would be less destructive to the slopes than the planting of dasheen, for instance, the Project continues to work with the Forestry Officers to identify high-value tree crops.  Preparations are currently being made for three pilot initiatives encouraging unemployed/underemployed youth into agro-forestry e.g. the cultivation of edible mushrooms, orchids, organic chewing gum etc.  The Project has also partnered with the community and agencies such as GEF SGP in the implementation of an Agro Tourism Park.  Since this initiative presents endless opportunities to reconcile conservation with economic benefits, IWEco has invested considerable time assisting the community in developing and submitting a proposal for funding.

Efforts have been focused on building the capacity of farmers and extension officers on sustainable land management techniques. The Project has teamed up with engineers from the Department of Agriculture to establish three demonstration plots, and, with the Solid Waste Management Authority to host composting workshops, the first of which was held in January 2019.

Public awareness is a critical component of the Project and many activities have been undertaken, including the eco-summer camp, art competition, coastal clean-up, television and radio programmes, commissioning of a video production etc. More recently, the Project co-sponsored international day of forests and World Water Day activities through the hosting of a mini-exhibition at the Soufriere Waterfront.

Saint Lucia National sub-Project Background

Please click here to download the Saint Lucia National sub-Project Background document.

Progress and updates on Saint Lucia’s National sub-Project

National Focal Point:

Alfred Prospere
Deputy Chief Forests officer
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives.
email: alfred.prospere@govt.lc

National Project Coordinator:

Aretha D’archeville
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives
email: arethadarcheville@hotmail.com

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Supported By

  • The GEF
  • un environment
  • UNDP
  • UN Environment
  • carpha
  • CARICOM
  • OECS
  • SGP UNDP