THE steep and fertile slopes of the Fond St. Jacques area form a critical part of the Upper Soufriere watershed.
The watershed supplies drinking water to many communities within the Soufriere and Choiseul districts and borders the coral reefs within the Soufriere Marine Management Area (SMMA).
Continuous soil erosion from the slopes in Fond St. Jacques worsen drinking water for residents downstream and impact reef health within the SMMA.
The devastating landslides that followed Hurricane Tomas in 2010 were a serious indication that slope stability and management must be given priority to protect the lives, health and livelihoods of residents.
As Project Coordinator of the St. Lucia IWEco Project (Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management), Ms. Darcheville works closely with the Forests and Land Resources Division to select, cultivate and replant native crops on Fond St. Jacques’ steep hillsides to stabilize the slopes and reduce erosion.
The plant nursery, where the selected plants and seeds are potted and nurtured prior to transplanting, is staffed by three individuals from the community.
An additional 11 full-time staff have been hired by the project to undertake farm assessments and tree planting.
During peak periods, additional young persons are hired from the community on a short-term basis. 20 young persons were hired in November 2017 to assist in nursery operations, pruning and tree planting.
The project, in collaboration with the Fond St. Jacques Development Committee, intends to assist these 20 individuals and other unemployed persons in the community to obtain sustainable employment by the establishment of an Agro-Tourism Park.
The National IWEco project, through this active and dedicated team of persons, seeks to reduce erosion in the Upper Soufriere watershed, improve water quality downstream, and create alternative livelihoods for interested persons to tap in to the area’s agroforestry potential.
The public is invited to visit the joint IWEco/Fond St. Jacques Community booth at the National Knowledge Fair in the William Peter Boulevard on December 10th and 11th, for further information.