“I just want to use this opportunity to encourage persons that when we have our conservation officers who are speaking to you out there in terms of what you can, should and should not do in terms of the use of ghauts… we want to implore you to listen because we are not speaking just for us but every citizen in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Ms. Jeffers during the December 02 edition of ‘Working for You.’. “The primary role of a ghaut is to ensure that you have that level of stabilization to avoid land slippages when and where necessary, particularly if we have a heavy incidence of rainfall.”
According to the National Conservation Protect Act, a ghaut is highlighted as an area of “special concern”. This means very little if any activity is allowed within the designated area. Ghauts are natural watercourses and play a pivotal role in reducing floods. One can observe a certain type of vegetation that is common in that area. Typically, one can see breadfruit and mango trees, for example, which provide a livelihood for many people.
Ms. Jeffers said in addition to reducing floods and contributing to food security, ghauts also provide cleaner air for all.
The Department of Environment has undertaken initiatives to secure ghauts to protect life and livelihoods. One such initiative was that of the College Street Ghaut where work was done to reduce land degradation in the area. The focus was placed on the middle section of the ghaut from the bridge adjacent to the Moravian Church up to the bridge that crosses St. Peters Road. The total length worked on was approximately 2300 feet.
The mainland degradation control measures implemented were the installation of gabion baskets and planting of grass and trees that were strategically located inside the ghaut to stem soil erosion. A gabion is a galvanized wire cage, cylinder, or box filled with materials like concrete, stones, sand, or soil. When filled with these materials, gabion structures act as building blocks and become a powerful and cost-effective defense against erosion.
Gabion baskets have been utilized in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis for many years especially in the agricultural sector (notably during the days of sugar manufacturing) as a means of soil stabilization and soil conservation along the banks of major ghauts.