The Wetland at Cades Bay, Nevis.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — The importance of sustainable land management is the focus of a new project to be launched in St. Kitts and Nevis” on Feb. 26 at the Ocean Terrace Inn (OTI) titled “Addressing Impacts of Acute Land Degradation in the College Street Ghaut in St Kitts and Quarries and Sand Mining Hotspots on Nevis.’

The Department of Environment is the lead agency with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). St. Kitts and Nevis is one of 10 participating countries in the Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF-IWEco) project).

The overall goal of the sub-project in St. Kitts and Nevis is to reduce and reverse land degradation by an integrated water, land and ecosystems management approach. The project would strengthen the institutional capacity, improve the policy framework, and facilitate pilot projects within the College Street Ghaut watershed (St. Kitts), and key quarry site and nearby wetlands and coral reefs (Nevis), earmarked for rehabilitation.

GEF-IWEco St. Kitts and Nevis Project Coordinator, Dr. Halla Sahely, said that the project will prove to be very beneficial to the Federation.

“This project will allow us to be proactive and fight land degradation in our country,” said Dr. Sahely. “We will be focused on restoration and reforestation of target areas,” she said, while outlining the areas that will be looked at.

“In St. Kitts, we are aiming to reduce soil erosion and flooding in the College Street Ghaut via cleanup of debris, rehabilitation of bridges and retaining walls, as well as planting grass. In Nevis, restoration is planned at an abandoned quarry at Hicks Estate, coral reef and beach restoration at Indian Castle, New River, Dogwood and Long Haul and wetlands rehabilitation work at Cades Bay and Bath.”

Dr. Sahely said work will also be done to “update and improve policies, legislation and institutions related to sustainable land and water management.”

In July 2018, Minister with responsibility for Environment the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, joined other OECS Leaders for the Fifth Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Environmental Sustainability (COMES) in Montserrat. There, they signed a statement of intention that highlights the urgent need for action on environmental degradation.

The intention acknowledges that “more cooperation, partnership and integrated approaches are needed if the state of Caribbean ecosystems, land and water resources, biodiversity are to improve; and the region’s heavy dependence on land and water resources and the biodiversity within, and the extent to which they are threatened by unsustainable development.”

The Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF-IWEco Project) is a five-year multi-focal area regional project. Nine other Caribbean countries namely Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Jamaica; Saint Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago will be participating in the project.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the lead Implementing Agency in partnership with The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The United Nations Environment Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (CAR/RCU) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) will serve as co-Executing Agencies.