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TitleFarming Change (CIPO-3 2012-CaRAPN)
Tags Agriculture Sustainability Biodiversity Rock (Geology)
File Size9.8 MB
Total Pages186
Table of Contents
Document Text Contents
Page 1

F a r m i n g C h a n g e
growing more food with a changing resource base

Page 93

Farming Change, growing more food with a changing resource base 77

NASA further noted that deforestation often proceeds in a patchwork fashion—clearings that branch
off roads in a fishbone pattern, for example, or deforested islands within a sea of forest. Direct causes of
deforestation are agricultural expansion, wood extraction (e.g., logging or wood harvest for domestic
fuel or charcoal), and infrastructure expansion such as road building and urbanization. Rarely is there a
single direct cause for deforestation. Most often, multiple processes work simultaneously or sequentially
to cause deforestation.

As in the case with soil degradation, deforestation is a result of both natural hazards and human activity.
In the Caribbean, natural disturbances, such as fire, drought, landslides, species invasions, insect and
disease outbreaks, and climatic events, such as hurricanes and windstorms influence the composition,
structure and functions of forests.(21) According to Disturbance theory, large-scale catastrophic
disturbances occurring with high frequency and magnitude can produce major gaps in forest stands
(e.g. major landslides as in the case of hurricane Tomas).

3.1.1 Natural Forest Disturbances

The forest disturbance caused by the 2010 Hurricane Tomas in Saint Lucia was determined to be relatively
moderate(22) (Table 6). Forest inventories undertaken in both 1982 and 2009 suggest that Saint Lucia’s
forests had recovered strongly from the previous effects of Hurricane Allen in 1980. This strong recovery
shows that Saint Lucia’s forests are capable of relatively rapid recovery from disturbance. However, due
to the frequency of disturbance to the forests ecosystem in the past 30 years, by hurricane Allen (1980),
Tropical Storm Debbie (1994), hurricane Dean (2007) and Hurricane Tomas (2010), there appears to be
an inhibitive effect on the capacity of the forest to achieve a steady state (i.e. biomass accumulation
= biomass loss).

When such disturbances create large gaps in forests, microclimatic changes may be severe enough
to cause the death of all or most of the seedlings of these dominant forest species. Such larger gaps
may then be subsequently eroded to their rocky substrates on hillsides or large areas of swamp soils on
gentler terrain. In such situations, natural succession is set back considerably. This can also result in a
reduction in the diversity of fruiting trees and the capacity of the forest to sustain some wildlife species.
Loss of mature trees with established root systems reduces the extent of below-ground root stratification
to anchor soils. This limits the capacity of watersheds to conserve soil and water leading to increased
water percolation. This creates problems for sustaining water levels in aquifers and as well rendering
forests vulnerable to wildfires during periods of drought.

�1 Extracted from (a) ‘Preliminary comparative species analysis between the �009 inventory and previous inventories’ by A. Toussaint of the Saint Lucia Forestry
Department; and (b) Climate change and forest disturbances. Bioscience, �1(9): ��3–�3�. by Dale, V.H., Joyce, L.A., McNulty, S., Neilson, R.P., Ayres, M.P.,
Flannigan, M.D., Hanson, P.J., Irland, L.C., Lugo, A.E., Peterson, C.J., Simberloff, D., Swanson, F.J., Stocks, B.J. & Wotton, B.M. �001.
�� Timber inventory of Saint Lucia’s Forests. Tennent R.B. �009. National forest demarcation and bio-physical resource inventory project Caribbean – Saint Lucia
SFA �003/SLU/BIT-0�/0�11/EMF/LC.

Page 94

Critical Issues, Options and Perspectives (CIPO) 78

Large-gap disturbances pose major problems for forest management. Therefore a basic understanding
of this natural rejuvenation system of mature primary or climax forest types is essential to prepare a
rational and ecologically sound forest management plan for building forest resilience.

Table 6: Timber Damage and Loss in Natural Forests Per range (Government Forest Reserve) Saint Lucia

Total ha

# of




Dennery 30 16,260 Moderate All 2,032,500 Majority of damage due to landslides.

Millet 25 13,330 Moderate All 1,693,750 Same as above

Quilesse 58 31,320 Moderate All 3,915,000

Damage due to a high landslides
occurrence and moderate frequency of
wind throws and snapped trees. Canopy
disturbance sporadic and localized

Soufriere 200 108,000 High All 13,500,000
Damage from large landslides. Majority of
areas were inaccessible.

Northern 15 8,130 low All 1,016,250
Damage due to sporadic medium and
small landslides and low areas of snapped
and wind throw trees.

TOTAL 320 177,260 22,157,500

Evidence of Hurricane Tomas destruction, 2010, Saint Lucia

Forest destruction Landslide in Fond St. Jacques, Soufriere

(Photos: M. Bobb, 2010)

Page 186

The theme of this CIPO – Farming Change – was chosen to provoke thought from two
perspectives: i.e., whether farming in the Caribbean has changed over time, and
especially now, in response to food and nutrition security imperatives; and whether
agriculture and the farm sector in particular, are poised to take advantage of the
dynamics of the changing natural environment in a manner that provides sustainable
environmental, social and economic benefits for the economies, societies, and
communities in the Caribbean.

This CIPO focuses largely on the second perspective, i.e., the changing situations in
the agriculture natural resource base and the implications for sustainable farming
and food production. The separate yet inter-related discussions on soils, forests and
biodiversity, converge towards a critical conclusion – that while they are all essential
to sustainable food production, these natural resources are under threat from human
activity. For the resource-scarce and vulnerable Caribbean, saving soils, forests
and species and promoting efficient and sustainable use of these resources can
offer tremendous scope for future development and resilience in an era of climate
change and economic volatility.

ISBN13: 978-92-9248-396-8

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