May 31, 2023285Views

Officers from the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) were joined by colleagues in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to carry out sampling and analysis on Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke as part of the ongoing Virgin Islands Comprehensive Soils Study.

The team collected soil samples and tested the water permeability at three locations in Jost Van Dyke and six locations on Virgin Gorda. Anegada fieldwork is scheduled for early June.

Since the November launch, the soils study team has gathered and analysed samples from dozens of sites around Tortola. In addition to informing decision making for disaster risk reduction, the study aims to gather data to help with land use decisions related to conservation, building, and agriculture, said DDM Senior Technical Planning Manager Melanie Daway.

“Fieldwork for this project represents the diversity of soil types on Tortola and on key locations on the Sister Islands,” Ms. Daway said. “This means that the final data mapped and shared will reflect the information needs of the partners and other stakeholders.”

The lead researcher for the Darwin Plus-funded study is University of Portsmouth Professor of Geoinformatics and Disaster Risk Reduction Dr. Richard Teeuw. Virgin Islands partners in the project 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.

So far the study has helped to train 23 public officers and farmers in soil sampling, soil analysis and soil chemistry. It has also helped to establish the Territory’s first local soil analysis laboratory at HLSCC. Forty-six high school and college students have benefitted from training in basic soil analysis and soil chemistry in the soils laboratory. The study is expected to wrap up in March 2024.