Recently, Dr. Murray has visited Richmond vale Academy to talk about his experience in the field of environmental science. Dr. Murray grew up in St. Vincent but he moved to the USA in order to obtain a Ph.D. in ecotoxicology, studying the effects of pesticides on the microorganisms living in the topsoil. He then worked for the ministry in St. Vincent and successively for the United Nations. He is currently working freelance as an environmental consultant.
The students learned about the serious problem of soil erosion which affects a significant area of the island. Soil erosion is primarily caused by deforestation in order to obtain areas for cultivation. By removing trees, soil loses cohesion since there are no more strong and deep roots that can hold it. Secondly, there is a low evapotranspiration, therefore, water accumulates in topsoil. As a result, a strong rain can easily transport the most fertile layer of the soil worsening the yield of crops.
In extreme cases, this can result in landslides. In St. Vincent heavy rains have created disasters in the past years: people have lost lives and houses during the last flooding in 2013. Unfortunately, such events are more likely to happen due to the combined effect of climate change and wrong land management. Some ancient techniques of cultivation should be revisited, for example, the contour plowing, which consists of plowing and/or planting across a slope following its elevation contour lines.