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Addressing Land Degradation in the Georgetown Watershed, Saint Vincent
The Georgetown Watershed management area on Saint Vincentencompasses some 5,750 ha (22.2 square miles), including the drainage basins ofseveral rivers. It is a national biodiversity hotspot, which is home to several rare and threatened species, most significantly,the endemic St Vincent Parrot (Amazonaguildingii), a national flagship species for conservation in the country, and five endemic reptiles.
The community was severely impacted by Hurricane Tomas in October 2010, by destructive floods associated with an extreme rain event in April 2011, and by a series of trough systems in December 2013, 2015 and 2016. The watershed has also been undergoing gradual degradation, mainly associated with agricultural development. In the upper-most reaches of the watershed the illicit cultivation of marijuana is contributing to the problem.
The St. Vincent & the Grenadines National sub-Project, mainly under the land degradation focal area, will target reforestation and conservation forestry interventions over at least 7.5 hectares within upland areas where landslides have occurred and along some 1.8 kms of riverbank that continue to actively erode. At least 2 hectares of the most severely degraded area will be reclaimed using a range of soil stabilization and forest management techniques. This area will be used to demonstrate best practices and as a learning centre for sustainable land management practices. A sub-component of the Project will carry out thinning in Hibiscus elastus (Blue Mahoe) and Swieteniamahagoni (Mahagony) forest plantations located at Perseverance over approximately 5 hectares. This intervention will also improve stability of the existing forest plantation and enhance the diversity of the forest, through natural regeneration of indigenous forest tree species. This will further increase the habitat of the endemic St. Vincent Parrot, resulting in increase of the population.
Enrichment planting of naturalized species will be done on approximately 2 hectares of the 7.5 hectares to stabilize the already unstable soil, as well as to increase the biodiversity within the secondary forest. The Project will assist with the rehabilitation of the access road allowing access to workers to carry out silvicultural interventions in the watershed to further promote soil and water conservation in the area.
The Project will also target the reduction of direct discharges of pig effluent into the environment through the employment of dry manure techniques. It will contribute to the development of the Jennings Bird Watching Trail which has the potential to be a significant revenue earner for the community, given the avian diversity and uniqueness in the upper watershed as well as the outstanding aesthetic appeal of the environment. The GEF Small Grants Programme will support at least one community group in the Georgetown area to take advantage of the economic potential associated with implementation of the project.
While the direct project interventions in sustainable land and forestry management will be over approximately 15 hectares, the entire watershed over 5,750 hectares will be managed as a unit within the scope of the project. Fifty hectares of the forest protected will directly benefit ecotourism. It is expected that the active SLM interventions to reduce the rate of upland degradation and restore the integrity of riparian ecosystems will lead to benefits within the wider watershed through in-situ conservation. Through on-site land and forest cover investments within 15 hectares over the target watershed areas, it is expected that an estimated 1,403.3 equivalent tonnes of CO2 over the life of the project, or an average of 280.7 tCO2eqv/year will be sequestered.
The Project will also carry out a census of the St. Vincent parrot (Amazonaguildingii), endemic to the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and one of the rarest and most magnificent parrot species globally. Despite the increasing populations, due to limited size of its home island, human impacts on the habitat and natural disasters, the Amazonaguildingiiretains its status as vulnerable under the IUCN Red List.
The National Project Document and budget have been revised and finalised. The Project Cooperation Agreement has been signed and initial disbursement is being awaited.
Please click here to download the Saint Vincent & the Grenadines National sub-Project Background document.
Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Transformation, Forestry and Fisheries
Tessa Sharika Mandeville
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