The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) will be carrying out a study of soils throughout the Territory as part of a Darwin Plus-funded research project launched this week.
The study will be conducted in partnership with other government agencies, the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, and the University of Portsmouth (United Kingdom).
The study will produce highly detailed and digitised maps for use across the public service, provide training in soil sampling and analysis, and help establish a soils laboratory at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Mr. Joseph Smith Abbott, said detailed soil maps can improve decision making regarding a wide range of topics including erosion prevention and mitigation, biodiversity conservation, farming and food security, building construction, and waste management.
“This kind of work that is being done today really and truly allows us to better prepare ourselves to adapt to a changing environment,” Mr. Smith Abbott said.
Officers from the DDM have been gathering soil samples around Tortola this week and the research is being led by Professor of Geoinformatics and Disaster Risk Reduction, from the University of Portsmouth Dr. Richard Teeuw.
“Already we are finding much more geological diversity than was previously understood,” Dr. Teeuw said. Throughout the project, soil sampling will continue on the four major islands in the Territory, as well as at key sites for conservation on other sister islands.
DDM Director Mr. Jasen Penn said details about soil composition will help improve decision making when it comes to risks like earthquakes and landslides. He also highlighted how the new soils laboratory will help improve future research in the Territory.
“This means that we as a Territory will be able to monitor change, carry out further research on our local soil, and of course, train others to continue this kind of work in the future,” Mr. Penn said.
Partners in the soil study are the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour; Department of Agriculture and Fisheries; Environmental Health Division; H. Lavity Stoutt Community College; Land Survey Department; National Parks Trust; and the Town and Country Planning Department.