Eric Evelyn, Minister of Social Development and Culture, has expressed satisfaction with the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society’s (NHCS) New River Coconut Walk Reforestation Project in the parish of St. James’.
His comment came on April 23, 2019, after joining two other Nevis Island Administration (NIA) cabinet colleagues to plant trees at the project site at the invitation of the NHCS, in observance of Earth Day 2019.
“As someone who is very close to agriculture who has an agricultural heart, and will always have an agricultural heart, I am very pleased with what is taking place now. I know that this area was extremely dry, always looked very deserted, always looked very barren. Hardly any plants growing. I am very happy that this project was conceptualised and I am pleased to see where the project is at the moment,” he said.
Evelyn also expressed the view that the reforestation project, funded by the United Nations Development Programme, through the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) and the executing agency the NHCS, will make a difference in the area. He wished the project well and commended the organisers.
“I think it will go a very long way in helping in terms of the soil conservation in this area and bringing back some well needed vegetation to the area as well. I am happy that that it looks like some fencing will be done as well because I know this area is plagued by a lot of donkeys and stray animals…,” he said.
Evelyn said that he wanted to commend the organisers who would have conceptualised the project and those who are presently managing the project, and wished the project well. “I am pleased to have been here to plant a tree to symbolise my commitment to this project and I can only wish the project well,” he said.
Meantime, Spencer Brand, Minister of the Environment, Physical Planning, Public Works and Water Services, who planted a tree said that he too was pleased to be associated with the project.
Brand spoke of the significance of the project to Nevis, advancing development and at the same time protecting the environment.
“I am very happy to be associated with this tree planting, very brief but significant ceremony. I believe that I find myself trying to balance both sides of the scale, Environment and at the same time Planning, while we try to push development as regards to certain infrastructural development. We also have to try and balance that as well with the preservation of our environment,” he said.
“I think that this gesture of planting trees and reforestation is indeed a good one as we continue on the path of development, where we are losing some of those forests, some of those green spaces, and so we have to, while we take some out we have to, at the same time, put some back in and I am very, very happy to see that we have been here to participate in this brief but significant tree planting ceremony,” he said.
Brand used the opportunity to urge the public to engage in planting trees where there is available space in their immediate environment, an act that would be of benefit to Nevis in the long run.
The New River Coconut Walk Reforestation Project which is being implemented in partnership with the various ministries and departments in the NIA including Agriculture, Planning, Public Works and Water Services commenced in 2018 in an effort to rehabilitate the area. Keithley Amory is the Project Coordinator.
It is hoped that on completion the new plants will act as a filtration system to protect the coral reef in the area, preventing sediments and foreign objects from washing into the reef system.
They will also help to create a buffer zone between the sea and the farming area. They will also help to reduce soil erosion and prevent the removal of top soil from the landscape. The presence of trees will positively affect the water table in the area. The increase in the water table will be achieved by the increase in infiltration of water and a reduction of run off which will add to the fresh water supply in the area.
The trees will also act as a wind break, reducing the wind speed in the area, thus preventing soil moisture losses, reduce wind erosion resulting in a reduction of economic losses due to reduced crop damage which augurs well for farmers at the New River Estate and surrounding communities.