St. Kitts and Nevis country environmental profile


Material Information

St. Kitts and Nevis country environmental profile
Added title page title:
Saint Kitts and Nevis country environmental profile
St. Kitts and Nevis environmental profile
Country environmental profile
Physical Description:
xvii, 277 p. : ill., maps ; 28 cm.
Caribbean Conservation Association
Island Resources Foundation (Virgin Islands of the United States)
The Association
The Foundation
Place of Publication:
St Michael, Barbados
St. Thomas, U.S.V.I
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Environmental indicators -- Saint Kitts and Nevis   ( lcsh )
Indicateurs biologiques -- Saint Kitts et Nevis   ( ram )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (p. 253-277).
General Note:
Spine title: St. Kitts and Nevis environmental profile.
Statement of Responsibility:
prepared under the aegis of the Caribbean Conservation Association ; on behalf of the government of St. Kitts and Nevis ; with the technical support of the Island Resources Foundation and the St. Christopher Heritage Society and the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 24917460
lccn - 92114241
lcc - GE160.S25 S7 1991
ddc - 363.7/00972973
System ID:

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Full Text



St. Martin
eSt. Barthelemy
St. Eustatius* ST. KITTS


4 Montserrat








1 A __________________






Prepared Under the Aegis Of:
St. Michael, Barbados

On Behalf Of:
Ministry of Agriculture, Lands
Housing and Development

With the Technical Support Of:
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Basseterre, St. Kitts
Charlestown, Nevis

Funding Provided By:
Regional Development Office/Caribbean
Bridgetown, Barbados

Draft Prepared 1990
Edited and Published 1991










One of the most serious threats to sustainable economic growth in the Caribbean is the increasing
degradaLton of the region's natural ecosystems and a concurrent deterioration in the quality of life for
Caribbean people. The task of reversing this unfortunate trend requires better knowledge and un-
derstanding of the region's unique environmental problems and the development of appropriate
technologies and public policies to lessen and even prevent negative impacts on our fragile resource

la an attempt to provide such a framework, the Caribbean Conservation Association, with funding
provided by the United States Agency for Internabtonal Development and with the technical assis-
tarce of the Island Resources Foundation, has nroduced a series of Country Environmental Profiles
for six Eastern Caribbean countries -- Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis,
St. Lucia, anC St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Even though these documents do not claim to be encyclopedic in their treatment of individual sectors
and issues, each Profile represents the most current and comprehensive information base assembled
to date on environmental and conservation issues that affect, and are affected by, the development
process in the Profile countries.

Each document addresses key environmental problems, constraints, and policy directions as these
were identified and fleshed out by a team of researchers and writers, in collaboration with a local co-
ordinating committee. Each Profile also identifies and examines a variety of opportunities and plan-
ning tools which may prove useful iin meeting environment/development goals in the future. All di
this information should play a significant rol'. in i.iorming and influencing ecologicatly-sound
development planning in the region, and should provide a basis for improved decision-making -- both
immediate as well is long-term. This may best be accomplished by using the data to define priorities
(in view of related benefits and costs), to pursue in-depth analysis of issues, and to undertake neces-
sary follow-on activities in such a way that they are mutually reinforcing. In short, action emanating
from the recommendations contained in the Profr: might best be undertaken within a comprehensive
environmental management framework, rather than from a piecemeal, project-oriented perspective.

The Caribbean Conservation Association is very pleased to be able to make this contribution to dc-
velopment planning in the region.

Calvin A. Howell
Executive Director
Caribbean Conservation Association

(April 1991)


Overall project management for the St. Kitts-Nevis Country Environmental Profile Project was pro-
vided by the Caribbean Conservation Association (CCA) under the direction of Acting Executive Di-
rector, Mr. Calvin Howell.

Technical guidance in preparation of the Profile was the responsibility of the Island Resourcef "oun-
dation (IRF). Dr. Edward L. Towle, President of the Foundation, is the Team Leader for the Profile
Project in the Eastern Caribbean; and Judith A. Towle, IRF Vice President, is the Editor of the CEP
Report Series.

St. Kitts-Nevis Government liaison for the CEP effort was the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Hous-
ing and Development, which took the lead in appointing the members of the CEP National Commit-
tee (see page ii). Mr. Valdemar Warner, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Lands and Housing
within the Ministry ably served as chairman of the National Committee.

Local project support for the St. Kitts-Nevis CEP was provided through the offices of two environ-
mental NGOs (non-governmental organizations), both of which executed Memoranda of Under-
standing with the CCA for coordination and administration of the CEP project. In St. Kitts, the des-
ignated NGO was the St. Christopher Heritage Society which provided office and logistical support
and other expert assistance to the various members of IRF's in-country technical team. Special
appreciation is due to Jacqueline Cramer-Ar.-nony, President of the Society, and to Larry Ai.-'ony,
Secretary, for their continued support throughout the project; to Dr. Keith Archibald (a member of
the Society and of the CEP National Committee) for his extraordinarily helpful review of draft chap-
ters; and to the office assistant at the Heritage Society, Rodina Griffin, who cheerfully assisted in
meeting so many of the project's on-site requirements.

In Nevis, the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society (NHCS) was designated as the executing
NGO on behalf of the Profile Project. Early on, the Profile Sub-Committee formed in Nevis, under
the auspices of NHCS, elected to take a more direct role in the writing of the CEP report and desig-
nated a group of local researchers and writers to assist with this effort (see page iii). Special thanks
and appreciation are due to all members of the Nevis Profile working group and, in particular, to
Chairman David Robinson, who worked long and diligently to coordinate this important task in

Staff at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Caribbean Regional Development Office in
Barbados facilitated implementation of the St. Kitts-Nevis Profile Project, in particular, Mission Envi-
ronmental Officer Rebecca Niec, whose support has been appreciated throughout this effort by both
CCA and IRF.

Many organizations, agencies, and individuals in St. Kitts-Nevis provided valuable assistance during
the course of the project. To each we extend our gratitude, along with the hope that the Envi-
ronmental Profile will assist the country in defining and achieving its goals for sustainable develop-
ment in the decade ahead.

For further information, contact any one of the implementing institutions:

Caribbean Conservation Association Island Resources Foundation
Savannah Lodge, The Garrison Red Hook Box 33, St. Thomas
St. Michael, Barbados U.S. Virgin Islands 00802

St. Christopher Heritage Society Nevis Historical and Conservation Society
Post Office Box 338 Alexandcr Hamilton House
Basseterre, St. Kitts Charlestown, Nevis


Valdemar Warner, Chairman
(Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Lands and Housing
Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and Development)

Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and Development
Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and Development

Ministry of Education, Youth and Community Affairs
Ministry of Communications, Works and Public Utilities
Ministry of Tourism and Labor
Ministry of Health and Women's Affairs
Central Housing and Planning Authority

Southeast Peninsula Development Board
St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation
Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park
St. Christopher Heritage Society
Nevis Historical and Conservation Society
Chamber of Industry and Commerce

Keith Archibald, Director of Agriculture
Eugene Petty, Director of Planning and
Permanent Secretary for Development
Vaple Burt
Athil Rawlins, Manager, Water Department
Larkland Richards, Permanent Secretary
Theodore Mills Chief Public Health Officer
Ashton Leader, Assistant Housing
and Phnning Officer
Patrick Williams, Secretary
Wentford Rogers, Personnel Officer
Larry Armony, General Manager
Creighton Pencheon, Vice President
David Robinson, Curatnr
Alexis Knight, Executive Director

The Council, 1989/1990

Jacqueline Cramer-Armcny
Vanta Archibald
Creighton Pencheon
Larry Armony
Wentford Rogers
Rita Cable
Ken Martin

Vice President
Vice President
Hon. Secretary
Hon. Treasurer

Lloyd Pennyfeather
Crispin Rawlins
Victor Williams
Hon. S.W. Tapley Seaton
Rodina Griffin

Men er
Government Member
Secretary and
Office Assistant

Nevis Sub-Committee for the Country Environmental Profile Project

Core Committee

David Robinson
Sonita Daniel

Leonard Huggins
Hastings Daniel

Chrispen Fahic

Government Liaison and Head Librarian
Nevis Public Librar;
Teacher, Charlestown Secondary School
Director, Nevis Housing and Land Development
Senior Health Officer, Department of Health

Members and Liaison Persons

Lester Blackett
Audra Barret
Hon. Spencer Byron
Hon. Birlyn Clarke
Hon. Simeon Daniel
John Derenzi
Ashley Farrell
Dc i Glover

Hon. Phinias Griffin
Lornette Hanley
Vincent Hubbard
Brian Kennedy
Helen Kidd
Jennifer Lowery
Hon. Victor Martin
Hon. Joseph Parry

Sam Powell
Elmeader Prentice
Joyah Sutton
Al Thompson
Monica Tyson
Euphemia Weeks

Monica Jeffers, Secretary

For The Country Environmental Profile Project

Core Team


Edward L Towle
Judith A. Towle
Jean-Pierre Bacle
Ian Jones, Margaret Klancher

Profile Writers



Edward Towle, George Tyson,
Klaus deAlbuquerque, Jerome McElroy
Avrum Shrier
Richard Ince, Edward Towle
Avrum Shriar
Robert Norton, Edward Towle
Melvin Goodwin, Edward Towle
Richard Ince, Edward Towle
Ivor Jackson, Judith Towle
George Tyson, Edward Towle
LaVerne Ragster
Clement Lewsey
Judith Towle, Calvin Howell
Project Team

For The Country Environmental Profile Project




David Robinson, Brent Wilson
Dean Rodrigues, Judy Nisbett
Leonard Huggins
Erin Kellogg, Robert Young,
Dean Rodrigues
Erin Kellogg
Robert Young
Robert Young, Manon Denoncourt
Erin Kellogg
Erin Kellogg, David Robinson
David Robinson
Erin Kellogg, Judy Nisbett
Leonard Huggins
David Robinson, Calvin Howell
David Robinson


Preparation of Country Environmental Pro-
files (CEPs) has proven to be an effective
means to help ensure that environmental is-
sues are addressed in the development pro-
cess. Since 1979, the U.S. Agency for Inter-
national Development (USAID) has sup-
ported Environmental Profiles in USAID-as-
sisted countries. Those completed to date
have provided:

(1) a description of each coun-
try's natural resource base, includ-
ing a review of the extent and eco-
nomic importance of natural re-
sources and changes in the quality
or productivity of those resources;

(2) a review of the institutions,
legislation, policies and programs
for environmental planning, eco-
nomic development and natural re-
source management;

(3) identification of the major is-
sues, conflicts or problems in nat-
ural resource management and
opportunities for effective re-

Profiles have highlighted gaps in the existing
information base, suggested new guidelines
for the design and funding of development
programs, pinpointed weaknesses in regula-
tory or planning mechanisms, and illustrated
the need for changes in policies. Most im-
portantly, the process of carrying out a profile
project has in many cases helped establish
new working relationships and even consensus
among government and non-government
bodies concerned with environmental issues
and has also served to strengthen local institu-
tions and improve their capacity for incor-
porating environmental information into de-
velopment planning.


Country Environmental Profiles have been
prepared for several countries in the Wider

Caribbean Region, including Panama, Belize,
the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica.
The potential utility of CEPs in the Eastern
Caribbean sub-region (essentially the OECS
countries) has been a subject of discussion
since the early 1980's. The need for the pro-
filing process to begin in those countries was
reaffirmed during a seminar on Industry, En-
vironment and Development sponsored by the
Caribbean Conservatiop Association (CCA)
and the University of the West Indies in
August 1986.

Shortly thereafter, USAID entered into a Co-
operative Agreement with CCA for prepara-
tion of a series of CEPs for the Eastern Carib-
bean. It was decided to begin the profile pro-
cess in the country of St. Lucia as a pilot pro-
ject, to be followed by profiles for Grenada,
Antigua-Barbuda, Domifiica, St. Kitts-Nevis,
and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Early in 1987, CCA and the Island Resources
Foundation (IRF), of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin
Islands, entered into an agreement whereby it
was determined that IRF would provide
technical assistance and support to CCA in
the execution of the profile project in the
Eastern Caribbean. The Executive Director
of the Caribbean Conservation Association is
the CEP Project Director, while the President
of the Island Resources Foundation serves as
CEP Project Manager/Team Leader.


Early in 1990 a Memorandum of Under-
standing (MOU) was signed by CCA and the
Government of St. Kitts and Nevis (GOSKN)
for the purpose of executing a Country
Environmental Profile, with the Ministry of
Agriculture, Lands, Housing and Develop-
ment selected as the counterpart agency for
Government. A National CEP Committee
was formed as an advisory, technical informa-
tion, and review body for the CEP Project.
The committee is comprised of representa-
tives from GOSKN agencies and private sec-

tor organizations concerned about develop-
ment and the environment.

At the same time, the St. Christopher Her-
itage Society (SCHS), a local non-govern-
mental organization, was designated by CCA
and GOSKN as the local implementing and
coordinating group for the CEP Project in St.
Kitts and the Nevis Historical and Conserva-
tion Society (NHCS) as the counterpart group
in Nevis.

The CEP National Committee was called on
to support the project in a variety of ways,
most importantly in helping to identify envi-
ronmental issues, to obtain reference materi-
als, and to coordinate and assist with the in-
country review of materials prepared by the
CEP technical writing team. A broad spec-
trum of individuals was selected locally to par-
ticipate in the review of the Profile, on a
chapter-by-chapter basis.

The Nevis sub-committee for the Profile pro-
ject, formed under the aegis of the Nevis
Historical and Conservation Society, elected
to take a more direct role in the writing of the
CEP report and designated a group of re-
searchers and writers to assist with this effort
in Nevis. A coordinating sub-committee of 27
persons was established, and nine individuals
were commissioned to take on responsibility
for providing material for the Nevis sub-com-
ponent of the Country Environmental Profile.

The headquarters of the St. Christopher Her-
itage Society in downtown Basseterre also
served as the headquarters of the CEP Pro-
ject. The staff and members of SCHS were
most supportive of the project and greatly fa-
cilitated completion of the report within what
was a very demanding time frame. During the
course of the CEP project, a significant col-
lection of environmental reference materials
on St. Kitts-Nevis and the Eastern Caribbean
was made available to both counterpart NGOs
in St. Kitts and Nevis. These collections will
remain in the country and, in the case of the
newer St. Christopher Heritage Society, form
the nucleus of a new environmental library
and, in the case of the older Nevis Historical
and Conservation Society, augment the
archives/library already established by NHCS,
supplementing the more historically-focused

collection with natural history materials. Both
"information centers" will serve the local
communities in St. Kitts and Nevis long after
the completion of the Profile Project.

The draft Profile Report was prepared during
a three month period, June August, 1990,
with draft chapters circulated to in-country re-
viewers for comments and input as each was
readied by the CEP technical team. The full
CEP document, in "draft final" format, was
completed in September and disseminated for
final review both in St. Kitts-Nevis and to
other reviewers in the Caribbean region.


As determined by the CEP Committees in St.
Kitts and Nevis and the IRF technical writing
team, the Country Environmental Profile has
been organized in nine primary sections.
Each sector-specific chapter provides the
reader with an overview summary of the sec-
tor, reviews key environmental problems and
issues with' the sector, and concludes with
recommendations specific to that sector.

SECTION ONE provides background informa-
tion on the general environmental setting of
the country and briefly reviews historical, eco-
nomic and demographic features. SECTION
TWO is a review of the natural resource base,
including a discussion of primary environ-
mental issues within four key resource sectors:
forests and watersheds, fresh water resources,
biodiversity and wildlife, and coastal and ma-
rine resources.

The Profile moves away from an examination
of the physical environment to consider key
economic sectors which depend on sustainable
resource management. First, in SECTION
THREE, the Profile looks at agriculture and
then tourism in SECTION FOUR.

SECTION FIVE considers issues related to park
planning, protected areas management, and
the preservation of historical resources. Pol-
lution and environmental health form the
focus of SECTION six, and the related topics of
land use, physical planning, and development
control are examined in SECTION SEVEN.

The subject of SECTION EIGHT is the institu-
tional framework for environmental manage-
ment in St. Kitts-Nevis, including an overview
cf key agencies and organizations with re-
source management and development
responsibilities. The final chapter, SECTION
NINE, provides a summary and synthesis of
critical environmental issues, conclusions, and

A comprehensive bibliography of source ma-
terials dealing with natural resource develop-
ment and environmental management is
found at the end of the Profile. Most refer-
ences cited deal specifically with St. Kitts-
Nevis or with the Eastern Ca, bbean sub-re-
giu~. It is the most thorough assemblage of
such reference material on St. Kitts-Nevis to
be published to date.

* .~

In the background, the Southeast Peninsula of St. Kitts, with the island of Nevis rising to the
right, as seen from the western side of Basseterre Harbor, near Ft. Thomas.



1.1.1 Landscape and the Changing

St. Christopher and Nevis are but two
of an extended archipelagic clustering of
oceanic islands in the Eastern Caribbean
known collectively as the Lesser Antilles
(Figure 1.1(1)). This biogeographic grouping
is notable among scholars and tourists alike
for its cultural, environmental and geomor-
phological diversity. The current environ-
mental profiling exercise, of which this docu-
ment is the last in a series of six covering the
OECS independent countries, has helped de-
fine the extent to which differences among the
islands in natural and physical resource en-
dowments have shaped and continue to affect
human and institutional development.

While all Eastern Caribbean islands
share certain valuable natural amenities, such
as a favorable climate, a rich cultural heritage,
luxuriant coral reefs and a wide selection of
colorful and attractive people, flora and fauna,
not everything is distributed evenly. Some is-
lands, like Antigua, have insufficient rainfall
and a surfeit of droughts; while others, like
Dominica, experience an excess of rainfall
with associated cloudy weather, landslides and
flooding. Only two island states, Grenada and
St Lucia, have a good, naturally-protected
harbor, while none of these islands escape the
danger of hurricane damage.

But risk factors and levels vary
greatly. St. Vincent, for example, lives with
the ominous threat of a recently active vol-
cano; conversely, Nevis has geothermal
springs at the Baths and St. Lucia has the
good fortune of newly confirmed geothermal
power. Barbados recently found and now ex-
ploits subterranean natural gas and oil de-
posits, while St. Lucia and St. Eustatia have
had to settle for the containers, i.e., an oil
transshipment bulk terminal (or tank farm)
with an elevated risk of oil spills. St. Kitts
shares with Nevis the double luxury of having
both an adequate supply of groundwater (at

least for current needs) and three-fourths of
all its land being suitable for agriculture on
well-drained fields of less than ten degree
slope. This is in contrast to Grenada, St. Vin-
cent and Dominica -- which have to make do
with very little flat land since eighty percent of
each has slopes steeper than 21 degrees.

Amidst this assembly of diverse is-
land ecosystems that form the northeasterly
boundary of the Caribbean basin, St. Kitts
(called this as a shortened version of St.
Christopher since the eighteenth century) and
Nevis (pronounced "nee-vis" except by
tourists) have together succeeded it, fashion-
ing for themselves a national identity and a
public image of uniqueness derived in part
from the country's distinctive, dramatic and
spacious landscape profile. Each island, one
larger, one smaller, is dominated by a single,
fairly youthful volcanic cone surrounded by
fertile slopes, called glacis, falling away almost
uniformly but always gracefully towards the
sea in all directions. There is little of the flat-
ness of a Barbados, only a touch of the dry-
ness of an Antigua, and none of the moun-
tainous irregularity of a Grenada, a St.
Vincent, a St. Lucia or a Dominica -- with
their convoluted interior terrain and maze-like
radiating ridges, spurs and deep, isolated val-
leys, bound together by a narrow coastal strip
of densely-populated land which guards the
few entries to less accessible hinterland.

By way of contrast, the so-called hin-
terland of St. Kitts and Nevis is open for all to
see, from coastline to mountain top in one
continuously graceful sweep, a verdant display
of micro-habitat variation and altitudinally-
conditioned biodiversity. The whole is com-
prehensible, center to edge, core to periphery,
the inside and the outside are one. Even the
central massif is crossed by the old military
road at Phillips Level in St. Kitts; while Nevis,
two centuries ago, had an upper level, circular
road around Nevis Peak at about the 1,000
foot contour level with open, cultivated land
above this road. Perhaps this openness, this




0 50 100

- i-Ar,. A... -














S 160-
0 0






-12* / ISLA LA





64* 62'



Figure 1.1 (1). General map of the Eastern Caribbean, showing the location of St. Kitts and Nevis.


variable disp',' of nature's vegetational
splendor in the sunlight and the rain, is why
Kittitians and Nevisians take obvious pride in
what their separate but almost linked pair of
islands looks like, from the air, from land and
from the sea. They talk about it, and they are
quite aware of its history. They seem to have
an innate sense of understanding that the as-
sembled landscape features, both natural and
man-made, really do constitute a remarkable
resource, part of the national patrimony, and
a thing of value that is priceless.

These islanders sense what Alexander
Pope was referring to when he said, ".. in
everything, respect the genius of the place"
(Essays on Man, 1733). And the signs of in-
stitutionalized concern are all about the land-
scape. In St. Kitts, there is the newly estab-
lished (National) Conservation Commission, a
new national park, the new St. Christopher
Heritage Society, and the Chamber of Com-
merce's "Beautiful Basseterre" project with its
special concern for urban landscape and ver-
nacular architecture. In Nevis, the Historical
and Conservation Society is about to under-
take a major environmental research project
with external funding, the local Environmental
Education Committee was the 1990 recipient
of an Eastern Caribbean "Earth Day" award, a
restoration initiative for the Baths is in train,
and current land zoning initiatives are setting
a standard for the country and the region. In
sum, concern for maintaining environmental
quality, including key landscape features, is

This distinguishing feature, the bio-
geographical face of the country we call the
landscape, was shaped in its present form not
just by nature but by the interaction of man
and nature over time. In St. Kitts, several
centuries of conscientious land husbandry on
sugar estates have left an aesthetically pleas-
ing, orderly, well-proportioned rural land-
scape or "countryside", disproving the univer-
sality of the customary argument about the
damaging effects of plantation-based mono-
culture -- or at least confirming a Kittitian ex-
ception to the rule. Meanwhile, the long, less
satisfactory experience of Nevis with sugar, at
least until the 1950's, and since then with free-
grazing goats, sheep, cattle, and pigs has
scarred and ravaged a vegetation that would

have otherwise helped stem wind and water
erosion and reduced the impact of sediments
transported by run-off to coastal waters and
reefs. Yet, on this subject, there are still some
modest site-specific lessons to be learned, as
will be discussed in the Profile.

In retrospect, the man-landscape di-
alogue and "development" process in St. Kitts,
and to a degree in Nevis, over the past several
centuries have evoked a strikingly successful
compromise between the disorderly, un-
planned, lushness of tropical ecosystems and
settlements (both are land-hungry) and the
neat, serene and orderly but efficiently live-
able, planned and manicured landscapes that
are so characteristic of rural English and some
European countryside where the process of
conserving, shaping and designing landscape is
more a calculated objective and the result of
effective land stewardship practices than an
accidental by-product. The response of the
Nevis landscape to human tenancy differs
markedly from the St. Kitts experience.

The two islands are, of course, only
separated physically by a modest ocean chan-
nel known appropriately as the "Narrows,"
which is neither wide nor deep but is nonethe-
less metaphorically profound (see Figure
1.1(2)). This situation is reflected in the
unique kind of binary "Federation" under
which the two officially operate as one. The
shaping of the content and even the format of
this Country Environmental Profile owes
something to an awareness of the special re-
lationship that exists between the two island
systems that function together and separately
at the same time. It also reflects concern that
different problems may require quite different
solutions or that the same problem in differ-
ent places may also require different resolu-
tions. As a consequence, this document is re-
ally two profiles in one, and the reader will
note virtually all chapters have two separately
presented sections, one on St. Kitts and one
on Nevis, followed by a set of recommenda-
tions that deal with both island units and the
country as a whole.

The decade of the 1990's will see ex-
traordinary changes in both St. Kitts and
Nevis and will require equally extraordinary
resource management responses by the state.

62*60' 62 40o

- Main Roads
1 Airports
---- Parish Boundaries

Old Road Bgach \



te Bay






- 17"10'

0 2 4 6 8 ,m
0 I 2 3 S Miles



Figure 1.1 (2). General location map for the Islands of St. Kitts and Nevis.

With annual sugar production in St. Kitts
down to 15,000 tons in 1990 (from 50,000 tons
in the 1950's), the shift to more diversified
agriculture and agro-forestry will accelerate
rapidly, as will the risk of massive changes in
the configuration of the island's traditionally
open, well-husbanded landscape. Simultane-
ously, manpower and labor costs will become
problematic once the 4,000 acre Southeast
Peninsula, now open for investment, becomes
an expansive construction site filling the
decade with its demands for people, services
and funds. Furthermore, the specialized envi-
ronmental management required for this drier
more fragile landscape, being reshaped to a
standard twice that of Frigate Bay, will place
an escalating strain on the state's limited pool
of trained technicians and professionals with
expertise in environmental specialties and
procedures like impact and risk assessment,
pollution monitoring, damage mitigation, and
ecological restoration.

For Nevis, the changes of the decade
have already begun with the development of a
new hotel-condominium tourism resort com-
plex at Pinneys Estate. Adjusting to its un-
precedented scale and its infrastructural needs
will be a major task in its own right -- espe-
cially following the unplanned environmental
"changes" launched by Hurricane Hugo in
September 1989. Since it is quite likely that
for the near future Nevis can expect the unex-
pected in terms of environmental impacts,
careful, anticipatory planning is in order for
the island.

The dilemma confronting the Kitti-
tian and Nevisian resource and development
planner in the 1990's who tries to manage ex-
ternal development pressures while also being
responsive to local environmental imperatives
is best illustrated by the following couplet
from a twentieth century poet concerned
about the impact of continentally-based insti-
tutions and enterprises on islands:

The tidal wave devours the shore
There are no islands anymore.

(Edna St. Vincent Millay)

All islands face the same combination
of opportunity and risk, the same marketing

strategies for continentally-generated devel-
opment theories, the same pressures of ex-
ogenous television advertising, the same "high-
tech" quick fix for complex local problems,
and the same kind of siren song of growth and
modernization and material progress. Most
will succumb. Some will lose their sense of
place. Some will resist. And some will suc-
ceed, finding creative alternatives. Some may
even lead because they appreciate that the
difference between just growth and real de-
velopment is largely environmental and only
sustainable development ensures the viability
of the supporting natural resource base. This
Environmental Profile, reflecting the concern
of the St. Kitts and Nevis CEP National
Committee, is about the state of that resource
base at the beginning of the decade of the
1990's in this Eastern Caribbean country.
What will it be like in the year 2000?

1.1.2 Historical Overview of the Nation


St. Kitts and Nevis were among the
Caribbean islands sighted and named by
Columbus during his voyage of 1493. At the
time, St. Kitts (and possibly Nevis) was inhab-
ited by Carib Indians, the last of several waves
of seafaring immigrants from South America
who settled the Caribbean islands during the
prehistoric period. The first wave of settlers
had arrived around 2500 B.C. (Goodwin,
1978a; Armstrong, 1980). About the time of
Christ, these hunters and gatherers were suc-
ceeded by agriculturalists known as the
Arawaks. The Carib Indians, who called St.
Kitts "Liamuiga" or fertile island, displaced the
Arawaks not long before Columbus' fleet
sailed into view.

While Indian population size remains
conjectural, recent archaeological investiga-
tions indicate that at times it was rather high
on St. Kitts, and that land use was very inten-
sive (Goodwin 1980). It is quite likely that
several millennia of shifting, slash and burn
agriculture by aboriginal horticulturalists de-
stroyed much of the climax forest on St. Kitts,


Latitude: 17 degrees 15 minutes North
Longitude: 62 degrees 45 minutes West












176 sq km (68 sq mi); 36.8 km (23 mi) long, roughly oval In shape
with a narrow neck of land extending like a handle from the
southeastern end

Estimated at 37,000 with census scheduled for 1991 (some pro-
jections as high as 40,000); population concentrated in the
Greater Basseterre area which may account for over half the total
population; population density Is 209 persons per sq km (1987)

Basseterre (approximate population, 18,500, with density of 550
persons per sq km projected for 1990)

Mount Liamulga, 1,156 m (3,792 ft)

Tropical and maritime, heavily influenced by steady northeast trade
winds with an average temperature of about 81 degrees F (27
degrees C)

Annual average is 64 inches (1,625 mm)

Central mountain range dominated by Mount Liamulga surrounded
by cane-covered slopes, dissected by ghauts, reaching to the sea.
The southern branch of the range encloses a spacious fertile valley
and the capital of Basseterre. Golden sandy beaches surround the
Southeast Peninsula, although most island beaches are of grey to
brown volcanic sand.

Until recently, the only remaining sugar monoculture in the Eastern
Caribbean; faced with continuing reductions in sugar market, Gov-
ernment has embarked on a program to diversify the agriculture
sector and stimulate development of other sectors, especially
tourism and light manufacturing and crafts.

Tourism is gradually replacing agriculture as the major economic
sector and is an important source of foreign exchange. Prior to
development of Frigate Bay resort area in 1972, tourism focused on
small, locally-owned hotels and guest houses. With the recent
completion of a road to the Southeast Peninsula, this 4,000 acre area
will become the target of major tourism expansion.

Golden Rock Airport with 8,000 ft of paved runway and night-landing

The deep water port at Basseterre can accommodate ships of up to
35 ft (10.5 m) draughi at its 410 ft (125 m) wharf. It has a 90
ft (27 m) wide roll on/roll off facility.
















Latitude: 17 degrees 10 minutes N; Longitude: 62 degrees 35 minutes W
3 km (2 ml) southeast of St. Kitts

93 sq km (36 sq mi); 12.3 km (7.64 mi) long and 9.6 km (5.96 mi) wide

Estimated at 9,600; most dense around Charlestown (St. Paul's
Parisn) and Gingerland (St. George's Parish). Average population
density (1980) is 102 per sq km; 37 percent of the population is
under 15 years of age and less than 10 percent over 65.

Charlestown (approximate population, 1,700)

Nevis Peak, 985 m (3,232 ft)

Tropical and maritime, heavily Influenced by steady northeast trade
winds with an average temperature of about 81 degrees F (27 degrees C)

Annual average is 46 In (1,170 mm)

Nevis is of volcanic origin and is dominated by a central peak (Nevis
Peak) usually embraced by clouds. Deep ghauts (guts) dissect
slopes from below the Peak to the sea with no regular stream flow
except during heavy rains. There are no bays, Inlets or cays of
significance, but long stretches of golden, sandy beaches surround
much of the Island. Growth cover Is extensive but not dense, and
many wetlands occur along the leeward coast.

Agriculture, tourism, fisheries, boat building, commercial trading,
construction trades and a very small manufacturing sector. There
are an estimated 1,129 part- and full-time farmers and 350 part- and
full-time fishermen.

Vegetable crops, citrus (variety of both with no dominant crop);
cattle, sheep, goats, pigs (many free-grazing)

Concentrated along Pinneys Beach area from Charlestown to
Newcastle and in the Gingerland area between approximately 800
and 1,000 feet. The total number of rooms is approximately 420
and will increase to 616 with the completion of a large resort in 1991.

Newcastle on the northern end of the island Is the sole air strip
with a 2,500 foot runway for 18 seater planes only. Expansion is
planned at Newcastle or relocation of air facilities to Indian Castle.

Charlestown, with a 368 ft (112 m) long pier and maximum water
depth of 15 ft (4.5 m); there is also a small pier at Newcastle but it is
not heavily used. There is a regular ferry service between St. Kitts
and Nevis.

and perhaps Nevis also, well before the arrival
of Europeans.

The island of Nevis has a prehistory
that dates back to at least 2000 B.C. Prece-
ramic people left evidence of their habitation
in the finely crafted stone tools found on the
island. Flint cutters and stone implements,
made from material not available in Nevis, in-
dicate the movement of Amerindian peoples,
while recently investigated middens reveal
beautifully formed and intricately colored
pottery, providing clues to the technical so-
phistication of these early cultures.

Like St. Kitts, the written history of
Nevis begins with the account of the island as
recorded by Columbus in 1493. Its name is
derived from "Nuestra Senora de las Nieves"
which means Our Lady of the Snows and
refers to the cloud cover which almost always
encircles Nevis Peak. The Caribs, the last
Amerindian group to inhabit the island, called
it "Oualie" or land of beautiful water.

Although Columbus claimed St. Kitts
and Nevis for Spain, the Spanish made no at-
tempt to colonize them, preferring the larger
islands of the region. Thus Carib dominion
lasted until the early seventeenth century
when land-hungry northern Europeans de-
scended upon the Eastern Caribbean. In 1624
a small party of Englishmen led by Thomas
Warner landed at St. Kitts and was allowed by
Caribs, led by Chief Tegreman, to establish a
settlement near their village at Old Road.
This became the first permanent European
settlement in the Lesser Antilles. A few
months later a band of French privateers
headed by Pierre Belain, Sieur d'Esnambuc,
arrived and was also welcomed by the Caribs.
In 1626 the French and English set the stage
and tone of their joint conquest of the Eastern
Caribbean by massacring and enslaving their

The French and English divided St.
Kitts between them and, fearful of being anni-
hilated by the Spanish, managed a precarious
but generally peaceful co-existence for forty
years. The English made Old Road their
capital, while the French established villages
at Basseterre and Dieppe Bay. From these
bases, they expanded into the surrounding is-

lands. In 1628 a group of Englishmen led by
Anthony Hilton moved to Nevis, where they
established a settlement named Jamestown.
During the next few years other Englishmen
from St. Kitts also colonized Antigua and
Montserrat, while parties of Frenchmen con-
quered Guadeloupe and Martinique. For
giving birth to these and other imperial
seedlings, St. Kitts became known as the
"Mother Colony" of the Eastern Caribbean.

St. Kitts also developed a reputation
as one of the most fertile of all Caribbean
sugar colonies, although its emergence as a
sugar monoculture took almost a century to
achieve. The seventeenth century plantation
system of St. Kitts and Nevis was character-
ized by crop diversity, self-sufficiency and
small, widely dispersed units of production.
Slave laborers were imported from Africa to
help clear the forests and till the fields, but
prior to 1700 they were only slightly more
numerous than Europeans (Dunn, 1972;
Sheridan, 1973).

Sugar cultivation was introduced in
the 1640's, but only in Nevis -- had be-
come a regional slave trading center -- did it
gain immediate ascendency. Most of Nevis
below 2,000 feet in elevation has been culti-
vated since the late 1600's, and as early as
1687 it was reported that "the clearing of land
extended almost to the top of the central
mountain" (Sloane, 1707). Development of
sugar plantations on St. Kitts was retarded by
four decades of intermittent colonial warfare.
Between 1666 and 1706 the French and En-
glish took turns attacking and seizing each
other's territory on St. Kitts, while Nevis was
twice overrun and ransacked by French forces.
Eventually, the English gained the upper
hand, and in 1713 France ceded its portion of
St. Kitts to Great Britain. The French lands
were distributed in large parcels to aspiring
sugar planters and Basseterre became the new
capital and chief port.

Expulsion of the French opened the
way for rapid expansion of the sugar industry
on St. Kitts, and between 1715 and 1735 its di-
versified agricultural economy gave way to
sugar monoculture and to the rapid expansion
of plantation slavery (Sheridan, 1973). During
this period its population quadrupled, from

5,000 to 21,000 due to massive importations of
slave labor. By mid-century, St. Kitts had one
of the highest population densities in the
Caribbean, with 367 persons per square mile.

The sugar revolution had profound
and long reaching consequences for St. Kitts
and Nevis. In order to maximize exploitation
of environmental and human resources, sugar
plantation populations were concentrated into
nucleated settlement sites that combined resi-
dential and manufacturing functions. Slave
laborers cleared away the remnant forest and
converted all arable land into cane fields.
Marginal land became pasture and provision
grounds. The plantations thus totally trans-
formed insular environments into distinctive
cultural landscapes that have persisted, with
minor modifications, into the present.

By concentrating resources and
wealth into the hands of a few landholders
and relegating the rural working class to con-
ditions of scarcity, deprivation and powerless-
ness, the sugar plantations also engendered
and perpetuated a complex social structure
and set of social relations, attitudes and be-
havior- that only recently have begun to un-

Sugar plantations dominated St. Kitts
and Nevis throughout the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries. Fluctuating market
conditions after 1820 and labor problems
arising from slave emancipation in 1838
brought a century of prosperity to an end, but
the plantocracy managed to survive by con-
solidating landholdings, mechanizing field
work, adopting new processing technologies
and reducing wage payments. Unable to ob-
tain land of their own, many under-paid ex-
slaves elected to emigrate in search of greater
economic opportunities and personal free-
dom, thus giving rise to a migrant tradition
and culture that persists into the present.
Those who stayed behind settled in village
communities on rented estate land, thereby
altering somewhat the eighteenth century set-
tlement patterns (Richardson, 1983).

On Nevis, the sugar plantation econ-
omy began to disintegrate at the beginning of
the twentieth century, when most local
planters found it impossible to compete with

European beet sugar in the British market.
Mary planters shifted to the cultivation of Sea
Island cotton or to cattle raising. Others par-
celled out their land to smallholders. By the
1930's Nevis had a substantial free-holding
peasantry which has continued to grow in size
and productivity. The last Nevisian sugar mill
shut down in 1958, and the last commercial
crop was harvested in 1969 (Richardson,
1983). Today most cultivation focuses on veg-
etables, fruits and some pasturing grasses for
animal production.

Over the years, Nevis ha- made a
number of important contributions to the
historical development of the region. One of
the earliest ventures in tourism was the Bath
Hotel, built in 1778 on a site overlooking
Charklstown and adjacent to natural hot
springs which attracted European travellers
for many years. Two men who played impor-
tant roles in world history -- Alexander
Hamilton and Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson -
were linked to Nevis. The first Secretary of
the Treasury of the United States, Hamilton
was born in Nevis in 1757, and his birthplace
has been reconstructed as a museum in
Charlestown. Lord Nelson, England's most
famous admiral, used Nevis as a base of oper-
ations during the mid-1780's, and it was here
he subsequently married a Nevisian, Frances
Nisbel, in 1787.

In contrast to Nevis, sugar has re-
mained the mainstay of the Kittitian economy,
although the plantation system has recently
been jettisoned. The industry was saved by
the establishment of a central factory in 1912,
which made it possible for individual estates
to shut down their antiquated mills and facto-
ries and concentrate solely on cane cultivation.
The 50 or so sugar plantations that remained
operational during the twentieth century were
linked to 'lie corporately-owned central fac-
tory by a narrow gauge railway completed in
1926. In 1975-1976 the St. Kitts Government
nationalized the surviving sugar plantations
and the central factory, thereby centralizing all
operations under state direction. Thus, the
sugar industry lives on, although its future
prospects hardly look as bright as in decades


Throughout its brief history, French
St. Kitts was administered by an all powerful
governor appointed in the Mother Country.
In English St. Kitts-Nevis, efforts by local gov-
ernors and their metropolitan sponsors to es-
tablish a similar form of one-man rule met
with fierce colonial opposition. As a conse-
quence, a modified form of representative
government evolved, consisting of an ap-
pointed Governor and Council and an elected
Legislative Assembly (Dunn, 1972).

At first St. Kitts and Nevis each had
its own government. But in 1660 the federal
principle wa,. introduced, whereby the two is-
lands were combined with several others into
a single administrative unit known from 1670
onward as the Leeward Islands. Under this
arrangement, a Governor-General appointed
in England administered the federated Lee-
ward Islands, while individual islands made
their own laws and enjoyed limited self-gov-
ernment under the direction of an appointed
Lieutenant Governor and Council and an
elected Assembly. Local government was by
and for the plantocracy, which alone pos-
sessed sufficient property to vote and to hold
office (Dyde, 1989).

This plutocratic form of representa-
tive government lasted just over two centuries.
The first major modification occurred in 1866,
when the Council and Assembly were merged
into a unicameral Legislative Council, with
half of its members appointed and half
elected. In 1878 the Legislative Council
passed a law providing that all of its members
be nominated by the Crown. Concurrently,
there were changes in the federal arrange-
ment. In 1871 St. Kitts and Nevis, as individ-
ual members of the federated Leeward Is-
lands, were organized into Presidencies, each
with its own Administrator and Legislative
Council. Then, in 1882, Nevis, St. Kitts and
Anguilla were combined into a single Presi-

Representative government was
reestablished in 1937, when provision was
made for the election of five seats on the
Legislative Council, three from St. Kitts and
one each from Nevis and Anguilla. High

property qualifications limited the vote to less
than 200 people, thus assuring continued
dominance by the plantocracy. However,
qualifications were lowered in 1946, enabling
several members of the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades
and Labor Union, which had been established
in 1940, to gain Council seats.

In 1952 a new Constitution granted
universal adult suffrage and created a Leg-
islative Council with a majority of elected
members. In the first national election, the St.
Kitts-Nevis Labor Party won control of the

The next major advance in self-rule
occurred in 1967, when St. Kitts-Nevis-
Anguilla became an Associated State within
the British Commonwealth. Along with this
change of status came full internal self-gov-
ernment and the establishment of a Senate
and a fully elected House of Representatives.
State administration was vested in a Premier
and cabinet drawn from the majority part3' in
the House. While these advances pleased the
ruling Labor Party, they prompted Anguilla to
secede from the new State, an action that was
officially recognized by Great Britain in 1982.
During the 1970's, Nevisians, who had long
been disenchanted with the Government in St.
Kitts, also began to consider secession.

The long rule of the St. Kitts-Nevis
Labor Party ended in 1980, when a coalition
comprised of the St. Kitts-based Peoples Ac-
tion Movement (PAM) and the Nevis Refor-
mation Party (NRP) won a narrow electoral
victory at the polls. The Coalition worked out
a formula for Nevisian self-government that
enabled the two islands to become an inde-
pendent nation in September 1983.


1.2.1 Climate

St. Kitts and Nevis. Situated some
six degrees south of the Tropic of Cancer with
temperature-moderating areas of open ocean
to the east, both islands have a tropical marine

climate, heavily influenced by steady northeast
trade winds, which produces an environment
almost ideal for human comfort. There are
only small variations in temperature through-
out the year, the average at Basseterre being
27.8 degrees C (79.6 F). Average minimum
and maximum temperatures in the Basseterre
Valley stand at 22 and 29 degrees C in Jan-
uary, increasing to 25 and 32 degrees C in July
(Kennedy and Robbins, 1988). Nevis temper-
atures and seasonal variations are similar
(Darby, et al., 1987). At lower elevations,
maxima above 32 degrees C (90 F) and min-
ima below 18 degrees C (65 F) are extremely
rare. Only at higher elevations, where the
rule of thumb is a one degree Celsius ambient
temperature drop per 100 meters in altitude
above sea level, do temperatures drop below
17 degrees C (60 F). Halcrow (1966) com-
puted the minimum temperature at the sum-
mit of Mt. Liamuiga at 7 degrees C (45 F).
However, the near perpetual cloud cover, high
humidity and wind chill factor at the peak
would tend to make it feel much colder.

The prevailing winds hold fairly
steady from the east, swinging seasonally be-

tween northeast and southeast with mean
speeds ranging from 5.4 mph in November to
9.1 in July. The months with the higher wind
speeds are the dry months from January to
March. Cloud cover is more common than
would be expected, averaging between 40 and
50 percent, which helps account for the rela-
tively low evapo-transpiration rate of around
40 inches per year (Halcrow, 1966).

Free water evaporation rates are
about five inches per month or 60 inches per
year which explains the general absence of
open water empoundments and the prefer-
ence for tanks and cisterns for water storage.
Relative humidity averages 76 percent but
ranges from 70 percent in March to 78 per-
cent in September, October, and November.
The islands receive an average of nine hours
of sunshine per day (KPA, 1987), but the ap-
plicability of this figure to Nevis is question-
able in the absence of confirming data
(suggesting the need for a meteorological sta-
tion or two on Nevis, with substations for spe-
cialized or localized data requirements).

.4 3-


i / A I/ /I A/1 1/ / i r ,,-, f

Figure 1.2(1). Typical 30-year average rainfall, Basseterre Sugar Factory gauge,
St. Kitts (source: KPA, 1987).







St. Kitts. Rainfall over the main
landmass of St. Kitts is relatively plentiful.
With its central mountain range extending
from Mt. Liamuiga, at 3,792 feet (1,156 m) el-
evation to the peak of the South East Range
at 2,953 feet (901 m), the uplift effect pro-
duces an annual average of 64 inches (1,625
mm). For a summary of thirty years of data
from one station, the Basseterre Sugar Factor
gauge, see Figure 1.2(1).

Except for the Southeast Peninsula
(SEP), rainfall is fairly well distributed
throughout the island although there are some
seasonal variations, with a wet period from
August to November and dry period from

NB. Precipitation for altitudes above 500 ft are
conjectural and have been estimated largely on
the basis of vegetation.

mid-January to about April (see Table 2.2(1)
in Section 2 for display of mean monthly pre-
cipitation figures for the island). The driest
year on record recorded 33 inches (832 mm)
from a dry area, while the island average for
the same year was 45 inches (1,143 mm).

Although the Southeast Peninsula,
which is very dry, and the central mo mntain
areas above the 1,000 foot (305 m) contour
(where it is wetter) lack good rainfall records,
there are still more than 50 gauges around the
island (Torres, 1985). For earlier, long-term
records, see Halcrow (1966, Table 1 in Ap-
pendix 1) which shows the duration of the
rainfall records and monthly and annual to-
tals. From these data, and allowing for the
fact that 27 percent of the main landmass

150" Per Humid
80 150" Humid
40 80" Sub- Humid
40" Semi arid

Figure 1.2(2). Average annual rainfall, St. Kitts, in Inches (source: Torres, 1985,
based on Lang and Carroll, 1966).

I.* Indiam Castle
(350 nsl

0 *
J F M A U J J A S 0 N D

S P'Ospect
147.4 inmis)

J F M A M J J A S 0 N D

J F M A M J J A S 0 N 0

a. H wdll mT 1


.Y Potworks Elstte





* New Rivet
139.4 in)



Figure 1.2(4). Average monthly rainfall for Nevis from eight rainfall stations (Atkins, 1983).

CIsiIIn WingIlaIld Fagl0oy
a2.4 11) ( .8 i 43.4 In#)

ll hl~ li ml
Sa 4-


a Whilm B Hemritlag g Estridge
159 0inS1 [495in; --- ( Sint)

ItSti h95m ISSfi ll

J F M A M J J A S O N O J F M A M J J A S 0 N 0 J F M A M J J A S 0 N 0

8 169.9 nis -

J F M A I' J J A S 0 N 0

Figure 1.2(3). Average monthly rainfall for St. Kitts from seven rainfall stations (Atkins, 1983).

(above 1,000 ft/305 m) was ungauged, annual
isohyetals were calculated by the Halcrow
consulting team in 1966. These data, however,
have not been readily accessible as copies of
the report are difficult to locate in-country
and have not been used widely by various re-
searchers and consultants.

Therefore, as a more readily available
substitute, Lang and Carroll's (1966) rainfall
isohyetal map (actually a 1962 UWI Soil
Survey Department map with no raw data
from above the 500 foot contour) has instead
been used and re-used over the years. See for
example Figure 1.2(2) which is basically a
1985 uncorrected tracing, taken from the old
Lang and Carroll (1966) version of the 1962
isohyetal map. (See also Section 2.2 on
Freshwater Resources.)

Average monthly rainfall at seven
different sugar estate locations on St. Kitts is
displayed in Figurt 1.2(3). The situation on
the Southeast Peninsula is quite different,
where precipitation varies from 39 inches
(1,000 mm) on the peaks to 34 inches (864
mm) at Cockleshell Bay (Lang and Carroll,
1966 and Jackson, 1981, cited in Towle, et al.,
1986a). The remnant dry forest on the Penin-
sula reflects this relatively dry climate and
high evaporation rates. There is some evi-
dence, however, that individual rainstorms can
be very intense and cause flash flooding.
Roughton (1981) predicted a ten year storm
frequency at five inches (127 mm) per hour
which, for the Great Salt Pond watersheds
that drain into the pond (see Figure 1.2(7)),
would have a combined peak discharge of 35.7
cubic meters/sec (1,260 cf/s).

Nevis. Islands like Nevis with one or
more high peaks manufacture their own local
weather, creating a range of micro-climates
which vary greatly with height, location and
orientation. Nevis has several projecting
masses, with Nevis Peak at 3,232 feet (985 m)
the dominant feature, which cause a marked
upward deflection of westerly moving, mois-
ture laden air. This rising sea air is cooled by
expansion, and the moisture is condensed so
that orogenic cloud formations and often
heavy pre' "pitation result. A typical feature of
central mountain peaks in the Eastern
Caribbean islands is a cap of "trade wind

clouds" which masks their summit day after
day and is only occasionally dissipated in very
still or very dry weather.

Rainfall records for Nevis are much
more consistent than any other climatic data.
Daily rainfall is currently being measured by
the Agriculture Department at eight stations,
when personnel is available (see Figure 1.2(4)
for average monthly rainfall at the eight Nevis
rainfall stations and Table 1.2 (1) for mean
monthly and annual rainfall data for the
island). More than one-half the island re-
ceives less than 50 inches (1,270 mm) of rain-
fall per ytar, with the average rainfall being 46
inches (1,170 mm), as compared to the aver-
age for St. Kitts of 64 inches (1,625 mm).
Mean annual rainfall varies from 29.66 inches
(753 mm) at New River on the windward side
to 51.60 inches (1,310 mm) at Hamilton's Es-
tate on the western slope of Nevis Peak.
Rainfall is lowest along the eastern side and
increases with altitude. Monthly data show
that most rain falls between July and January
with a lesser monthly peak occurring in May.
However, there is considerable variation from
year to year and month to month. While short
periods of drought can occur at any time
throughout the year, the months of February
through April are most susceptible to ex-
tended droughts. Isohyetal data is presented
in Figure 1.2(5).

1.2.2 Topography and Geology


Topography. At 176 square kilome-
ters (68 square miles), St. Kitts is the larger of
the two islands comprising the Federation of
St. Kitts and Nevis. The entire island is
perched midway on a submerged ridge or
bank some ten miles wide with a northwest to
southeast axis from which both Nevis and
neighboring St. Eustatius also arise. The main
part of St. Kitts has a rugged backbone domi-
nated by the Northwest Range which includes
three linked volcanoes, with the largest (and
youngest) of these -- Mt. Liamuiga (Mt.
Misery until independence in 1983) -- rising
with a pronounced crater to 3,792 ft (1,156 m).

Table 1.2(1). Mean monthly and annual rainfall data for Nevis, to 1985.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Period of
record (yrs.)
Elevation (ft.)

Monthly data (in.)












Annual data (in.)

23 42 31 36 28
30 800 200 270 60

1.70 3.34

1.23 1.92

1.19 1.64

2.48 2.30

1.67 3.42

1.26 2.25

2.75 3.72

3.42 4.51

2.92 5.23

3.72 4.73

2.50 4.52

2.55 3.88

33.30 45.38

























43 17
280 725

2.51 3.84 3.74

1.42 2.29 2.38

1.50 2.28 1.80

2.41 3.06 2.19

3.46 3.88 3.23

2.72 2.76 2.70

3.96 4.56 3.98

5.09 5.21 5.23

5.51 6.09 4.78

5.08 4.62 4.56

4.84 5.02 4.55

3.24 4.57 3.90

29.66 43.08 39.80 45.98 51.60 43.98













44.83 50.89

Notes: 1Stations are: 1 Indian Castle
2 Hard Times
3 New River
4 Madders
5 Potworks
2Evapotransplration < 300 m.

Source: Kennedy and Robins, 1988.

6 Cades Bay
7 Hamiltons
8 Prospect
9 Prison Farm (privately operated)

Figure 1.2(5). Nevis average annual Isohyets (In Inches) and rainfall stations (elevation In feet)
(source: Atkins, 1983 and Information from the Nevis Agricultural Department).


Southeast of Liamuiga, the now dormant
volcanic chain continues with the Central
Range and the Southeast Range (dominated
by Verchild's Mountain and Camp Crater, re-
spectively) after which the land descends into
the Basseterre Valley. The steeper part of St.
Kitts' central, mountainous interior is sur-
rounded by an upland forest belt blending
downslope into a gradually sloping coastal
plain sweeping gracefully seaward, covered
primarily by sugar cane with expanding
patches of diversified agricultural crops and
some pasture land. Minor domes protrude
from these lower slopes at Brimstone Hill,
Ottley's Mountain, Sandy Point Hill, and
Monkey Hill (Figure 1.2(6)).

The coastline of the island's main
landmass consists primarily of cliffs, some 50
to 100 feet high. At the foot of these cliffs are
narrow beaches comprised of coarse "black"
(volcanic) sand and numerous pebbles and
boulders. In the northwest, however, the cliffs
are lower, and some of the beaches are wider
and comprised of yellow sand. Coastal ero-
sion, caused by various factors such as reef
damage due to excessive sediment loads, bio-
cide run-off and other land-based sources of
pollution, is a continuous and ubiquitous
problem for the state and is discussed in
Sections 2 (Section 2.4) and 6 of the Profile.

Dieppe Bay Town




N.Frlor's Boy
k urtle Bay

Beach and marsh deposits
Recent pyroclastics of Mt. Misery
Elack Rocks basalt

Andesite domes o,
Mt. Misery cone : lavas and pyroclastics 10,
HTll Middle Range volcanic rocks
E] South East Range volcanic rocks
SOlder volcanics
Plio-Pleistocene limestone
*A Active soufriere
0 2 3 4 5 Miles
0 I 2 3 4 5 6 7 e Kilometres

Figure 1.2(6). Generalized geological mnap of St. Kitts (source: Christmas, 1977,
after Martin-Kaye, 1959).

Except at the eastern (Fort Tyson)
and western (Fort Thomas) headlands, there
are no cliffs along the Basseterre Harbor
shoreline nor in the area extending from
Cayon to the Atlantic side of Frigate Bay
where there is a very long but rugged, high
energy beach. Nearby, and pointing off in the
direction of Nevis, the rugged Southeast
Peninsula contains the island's best swimming
beaches except perhaps for the Caribbean side
of the Frigate Bay development area.

Only just recently made accessible by
a new access road, the Southeast Peninsula
(SEP) is actually a cluster of seven older,
small rocky islands linked by more recent
beach and saline marsh deposits, originally
tombolos, now broadened into flat sedimen-
tary plains and marsh land tying the seven
islets together. At Frigate Bay they are linked
to the base of the older volcanics of the
Conaree Hills. All the residual hills on the
Peninsula are smoothly rounded with slightly
convex peaks, once heavily forested but now
covered mostly with dry scrub woodland veg-
etation -- principally, acacia, agave, and
columnar and Turks Head cacti on the hills,
with guinea grass on open, burned-over areas
and with manchineel, mangrove, seagrape and
beach strand vegetation occurring intermit-
tently at the base of the hills along the shore-
line or the salt pond margins. Excluding the
Frigate Bay area, which is the actual base of
the Peninsula and which has 380 hectares (850
acres), the Southeast Peninsula proper em-
braces over six square miles (1,600
hectares/4,000 acres) and eight saline ponds
which vary in size from 160 ha (400 ac) to 1.6
ha (4 ac).

The topography of the Peninsula con-
sists of two quite distinct features: (1) a nar-
row, isthmus-like, rock spine slightly more
than 0.5 km in width and about 4.5 km in
length, extending in a southeasterly direction
from Timothy Hill at Frigate Bay to Salt Pond
Hill (see Figure 1.2(7)) and (2) a larger,
roughly triangular area shaped like a grand
amphitheater with a cluster of hills surround-
ing the 440 acre Great Salt Pond which has a
watershed catchment area of about 380 ha
(940 ac). The highest hill on the Peninsula is
St. Anthony's Peak at 319 m (1,047 ft). Lang
and Carroll (1966) indicate that it may be the

site of a former volcanic crater, but this is not

Geology. The geology of St. Kitts was
first described by Earle (1922) and subse-
quently revised by Martin-Kaye (1959). A
simplified presentation of their findings in the
form of a geological map is provided as Figure
1.2(8). The island, which remains seismically
active, has a core of older (Eocene) volcanic
material comprised largely of andesite. This
material is exposed in the Canada Hills and
Conaree Hills to the north and east, respec-
tively, of Basseterre and in the Southeast
Peninsula. Three younger volcanic centers
are found along the island's central spine,
which were active during the Pleistocene pe-
riod when they yielded andesitic pyroclastics.
The latter are retained as ash, reworked sands
and gravels, cobbles, and boulders. Mud
flows or lahars are common in the northwest,
characterized by a silt or clay grade matrix
(Kennedy and Robins, 1988). Mt. Liamuiga is
a relatively simple strato-volcano with a deep
summit crater about 1,000 yards in diameter.
According to Baker (1968) the earliest sub-
aerial eruptions probably occurred about one
million years ago and a much larger cone than
the present one was built up at that time. The
present steep central cone is made up of an-
desitic and basaltic lava flows, agglomerates
and pyroclastics.

Evidence of a basalt flow from Mt.
Liamuiga can be seen at Black Rocks and
above Profit Estate, and a small area of older
limestone can be found on the sides of
Brimstone Hill and at Godwin Ghaut above
1,000 feet (KPA, 1987). Recent marsh
deposits are present in low areas of the SEP,
and some alluvial outwash deposits can be
found in ghaut floors by the coast (Kennedy
and Robins, 1988).

No obvious geologic faults have been
recorded, but several observed lineations may
be deeper faults that have been masked by
volcanic ejecta (KPA, 1987).


South Friar's

Caribbean Sea



0 1
MI .

Km I 1 I
0 1
Eloevllonl In meters
above mean sea*** tvel t_,. ..



C =.%iw 319
Central ODaIna3I t-
B I" X ""*\ugal LO,g
S)- 2

Figure 1.2(7). Location map, Southeast Peninsula, St. Kitts (source: Orme, 1989a).

Figure 1.2(8). Gescogy map of St. Kitts (source: KPA, 1987, based on geological maps
produced by Dr. P.H.A. Martin-Kaye and Dr. P.E. Baker).


Topography. At the northern end of
the Lesser Antilles archipelago, where Nevis
and its sister island are located, the Leeward
Islands comprise a double arc, with an older,
elementary arc to the east and a younger vol-
canic arc to the west (Martin-Kaye 1969; Rea
and Baker 1980). These are regarded as
forming an island arc couplet comparable to
that of the Tongas in the Central Pacific
(Miyashiro, 1974), even though the Lesser
Antilles lack the oceanward trench normally
associated with such arcs (Chayes, 1964).
Nevis lies on tbh inner arc, nea: the south-
eastern border of the St. Eustatius bank, and
comprises some ten distinct volcanic centers.
These are strung out along a line trending ap-
pioximately southeast to northwest, parallel to
the trend of the inner, volcanic arc. These
centers are flanked by and, in some cases, al-
most overwhelmed by volcanigenic deposits.

Topographically Nevis is approxi-
mately circular and dominated by the central
Nevis Peak, some 985 m (3,232 ft) high. (The
preliminary data atlas published by ECNAMP
in 1980 gives the altitude of the peak incor-
rectly as 3,596 feet, a figure which had also
been routinely taught in the schools.) Nevis
Peak is such a dominant feature that, espe-
cially when viewed from the west, the peak
overshadows other topographic features, giv-
ing the island the appearance of a text-book
volcano. In plan view, however, Windy Hill
(309 m) and Saddle Hill (381 in) at the head
and tail of the island, respectively, align with
Nevis Peak to form a north-northwest/south-
southeast trending spine comparable to the
more pronounced spine of St. Kitts (Merrill,
1958). To the east the spine is thickened by
the bulge of Butlers Mountain. (578 m).
Slopes vary from almost zero near the sea, to
over 40 percent in the vicinity of Saddle Hill,
Butlers Mountain, Nevis Peak and Windy Hill.

Geology. The thick cloak of volcani-
genic sediment, together with the dense cara-
pace of vegetation sported by the island, for
many years encouraged geologists to adopt a
sketchy approach to Nevisian geology; and for
a long time it was assumed that Nevis com-
prised simply one volcano (Spencer, 1901;

Trechmann, 1932; Cleve, 1882). Two factors
served to alter this view:

The application of aerial photog-
raphy, especially in the 1950's;

The appointment in the 1950's of
a geologist, based in St. Lucia, re-
sponsible for geological matters in
the Lesser Antillean region.

This geologist, Dr. P.H.A. Martin-
Kaye, accumulated considerable data, al-
though only a little of it was published.
Among his unpublished works is the first ge-
ological map of Nevis (Martin-Kaye, 1961),
copies of which were lodged with the Institute
of Geological Sciences in the UK (now the
British Geological Survey). Although only a
sketch map, Martin-Kaye's map remains un-
challenged to this day (Kennedy and Robins,
1988; pers. commun., Sylvia Brackell, British
Geological Survey, 1990) and has formed the
basis for subsequent sketch maps published in
Hutton (1965) and Robson and Tomblin
(1965), and the more detailed map published
in Hutton and Nockolds (1978). (For the
convenience of the serious researcher, it is
noted that Martin-Kaye's original 1961 map is
reproduced as Figure III in Lang and Carroll,

Hutton and Nockold's map in turn
forms the basis of the geological map dis-
played in Figure 1.2.(9). However, recent un-
published work (Wilson, 1990) has indicated
that the geological boundaries given on previ-
ous maps may be subject to revision as field
data are gathered. The map presented in Fig-
ure 1.2(9) must, therefore, be regarded as a
sketch map only. Nevis comprises principally
dacites, with andesites at three centers: Cades
Bay, Saddle Hill, and the main cone of Nevis
Peak (Table 1.2(2)).

Although Nevis is primarily a volcanic
island, the oldest rocks are of marine origin.
On the southern slopes of Saddle Hill an ob-
scure outcrop of conglomerate yields blocks of
recrystallized limestone that contain
foraminiferids of mid-Eocene age (Hutton
1965). The next oldest rocks are vo'canic, and
much younger, being erupted during Pliocene
.ime (Table 1.2(3)). The older volcanics crop


Raised beach deposits
Furnmerol (hydroithermol) areas.
Volcanigenic deposits, Inc. lohors.
Great. Dome docite.
Intra-croterol Dome doc;te.
AncesibLc dcosit5 o Nevi~ Peak main Cone.
Compa Ridyc: dacites overlain b5 de.?osiLs


Butler'5 Mountain dacite.
Red Cliff docrbic 055lomerate.
Saddle. Wil andesites.
Codes Baoj Andesites
Wnd Hill dacibes
Hurricane Hill dacites.
UndiFrntiated deposits.
Boundaries of labor's

1 Km

Figure 1.2(9).

Geologic map of Nevis (source: Wilson, 1990, adapted from Martin-Kaye, 1961,
and Hutton and Nocholds, 1978).

1^ ^ I


Table 1.2(2). Location and composition of Nevislan volcanics.

out on the northwestern coast, while the
youngest form Nevis Peak; Saddle Hill to the
southeast is of intermediate age (Hutton and
Nockolds, 1978). Hutton and Nockolds (1978)
were the first to note that the Saddle Hill
complex comprises two major igneous rock
types, which they designated: (1) the Station
type and (2) the Saddle Hill type. Field evi-
dence shows the Saddle Hill type to form the
spine of Round Hill, the cores of the lateral
cones now forming Mast Hill, and other areas
noted in Figure 1.2(10). The so-called Station
type is much more widespread, forming
aprons to the occurrences of Saddle Hill type.
Such a situation can be best explained by
eruption of these rocks from a composition-
ally stratified magma chamber (Rea and
Baker, 1980, propose a similar model for the
Soufriere Hills complex, Montserrat). Ac-
cording to such a model, while in the magma
chamber, the more acid Station type lay on
top of the Saddle Hill type. The widespread
Station type was the first to be erupted, the
more restricted Saddle Hill type being erupted
later. During eruption of this volcanic center,

there was only limited convective mixing of
these magma types. Thus far plutonic blocks,
common in other Lesser Antillean volcanoes
(Lacroix, 1949; Baker, 1968) have not been
recorded from Nevis (Lewis, 1973).

Away from the volcanic centers per se
-- these frequently having been eroded so
deeply that they now expose more or less
massive igneous rocks of somewhat intrusive
aspect -- Nevis is formed of sediments derived
from those centers. The precise nature of
these sediments, however, is not clear; for ex-
ample, Martin-Kaye (1961) recognizes blocky
pyroclastic debris, flow deposit and laharic
(mud fl,- v) deposits. Hutton and Nockolds
(1978) concurred but also recognized ash-and-
block flow deposits.

This confusion reflects a more fun-
damental problem within the discipline re-
garding the overall classification of volcanic
breccias and conglomerates (Fisher, 1958,
1960a/b). This confusion arises because the
various types of volcanic deposits grade from

LOCALITY SAMPLE NO. (a) S102 (%) (b)

Saddle Hill (c) 10-12 57.90
Saddle Hill (d) 13-14 58.95
Main Cone, Nevis Peak 22-25 59.85 ANDESITES
Cades Bay 6- 8 60.27
Camps Ridge 19-21 61.30
Red Hill 15 61.60
Hurricane Hill (e) 1-2 61.75
Windy Hill (e) 3-5 61.80 DACITES
Nevis Peak, older volcanics 33-35 62.40
Butlers Mountain 16-18 62.60
Intra-crateral Dove 26 62.90
Great Dove, Nevis Peak 27-30 63.40

(a) Data from Hutton and Nocholds, 1978.
(b) Compiled on the basis of Hamilton's (1964) igneous rock classification system In which basalts
compr;3e < 56% silica Si02, andesltes 56-61% SI02, and dacltes > 61% S102.
(c) Saddle Hill type andesite.
(d) Station type andesite.
(e) Hutton (1965) and Hutton and Nocholds (1978). Hurricane Hill is Incorrectly referred to as
Windy Hill, and vice versa. This error Is rectified herein.

Table 1.2(3). The ages of selected rocks In Nevis.


Main Cave, Nevis Peak
Butlers Mountain Center
Saddle Hill Center
Hurricane Hill Center
Cades Bay Center
Windy Hill Center


0.98 +/-0.1 Ma
1.10 +/-0.16 Ma
1.80 +/-0.3 Ma
2.7 +/-0.5 Ma
3.22 +/-0.16 Ma
3.43 +/-0.17 Ma




Saddle Hill Ar a: clasts In conglomerate

Source: Huvon (1965) and Hutton and Nockolds (1978).

one to ano'-er. Working on Nevis, Wilson
(1990) has developed a tentative model for
genesis of selected volcanigenic sediments,
drawing his sample from Whitehall Ridge,
immediately south of St. George's Farm. In
this area there is a gradational series from
massive igneous rocks, through autobrecciated
material indicative of the tops of lava flows, to
an overlying laharic unit. It would thus appear
that the laharic material has been derived
from reworking of autobrecciated lava. How-
ever, the extent this reworking was contem-
poraneous with the eruption of this volcanic
center remains unclear.

1.2.3 Soils

The agricultural soils of St. Kitts and
Nevis have been used extensively and inten-
sively for over three hundred continuous
years. Although the lowland soils of Nevis, in
particular, show the ill effects of this and of
other uses, in general the soils of both islands
have stood up amazingly well to the long pe-
riod of cultivation.

This is largely the result of the quality
of the locally available parent material pro-
vided by recent volcanism in the islands. The
fragmented volcanic ejecta (rock and ash) is
rich in mineral elements required by plants.
The physical qualities, in addition to the

chemical qualities, are such that the parent
material weathers rapidly into soil. It is
known from other studies done in the region
(Hardy, 1939) that fresh volcanic ash soils can
give rise to truly fertile soil within ten to
twenty years after the time of deposition or
fresh exposure to weather. Therefore, it can
be assumed that, to some degree, the ill ef-
fects of soil erosion on the cultivated slopes of
St. Kitts, and to a lesser degree on Nevis, have
been somewhat offset by the rapid rate of soil

Chemical analysis of the country's
soils as early as 1947 (Hardy and Rodrigues)
confirmed certain deficiencies (see Table
1.2(4)). Low nitrogen and organic matter fig-
ures for the non-forest cane fields tend to
confirm the negative impact of long continued
cultivation. Although not. shown in the table,
potash levels were low, averaging only 112
ppm as opposed to a needed 120 ppm mini-
mum. This potash deficiency accounts for the
attention of colonial planters to collecting and
applying pen manure to their lands and also
explains the more recent shift to commercial
fertilizers containing potash when working
cattle and horses were replaced by tractors.

There are very marked differences
between the soils of St. Kitts and the soils of
Nevis. This is reflected in equally notable
differences in the agriculture of the two


/" "". .I
'I* S / C '*

1^ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~A 14%LiL.''^^ ^[|^ ^-. ..
,- \.,,... N* . .

1I. .>:74 '* o 5c*: :: q.: 2Kj

ST e~%4 --- .t
,. ..,. ,.^ ^. --. -

.'- "/ 1 Kilometre
-- .. "
. .4

? hudrothermnallj altered Nevis Peak mudflow/ lohor
Ntvis Peak mudflow/lahor
Sadle Hill floank deposit
autobrecciated lava pow
Station type undesite
Saddle Hill 1ype andesite.
Beddn slo
Break in slope

Figure 1.2(10). Geology of the Saddle Hill area, Nevis (source: Wilson, 1990).

islands and the effects that agriculture has had
on the landscape and on the environment of
each (see also Section 3 on Agriculture). It is
noteworthy that the standard St. Kitts and
Nevis 1966 Soil and Land-Use Surveys by Lang
and Carroll, although published together as
one document under the aegis of the Imperial
College of Tropical Agriculture, were in fact
prepared separately by two investigators who
wrote individual reports which differ signifi-
cantly in map detail. Mr. D.M. Lang was re-
sponsible for the survey of Nevis and Mr.

D.M. Carroll carried out the work on St. Kitts.
One of the few things that they had in com-
mon was a shared preference for a pedoge-
netic soil classification system based on the
degree of maturity and weathering which
made their reports useful as a guide to the
nature of the soil types but not very helpful as
an inventory of the resource; or for soil man-
agement and conservation purposes. Under
these circumstances, soil issues in the state
have tended to remain separated. Following
independence under the Federation, two




Table 1.2(4). Chemical analysis of soils in St. Kitts and Nevis.

separate agencies for agriculture emerged --
one for (and in) St. Kitts and one for (and in)
Nevis (for further information, see also
Sections 3 and 8 of the Profile).


Merrill, in his 1958 monograph on
the historical geography of St. Kitts and
Nevis, identified four primary soil types on the
larger island:

Yellow An ash-based, porous, well-aerated soil
that makes the best agricultural soil, for
example, the fine ash deposits on the
Olives Range which weather into
"yellow earth," the color due to limonite

Brown-Yellow Good for crops, weathers from small
stones, angular boulders, sand (mixed),
covers much of the well-watered west-
ern slopes and lowlands (except the
peninsular), low nitrogen (N) and
Potassium (K), low organic, needs ani-
mal or chemical fertilizer.

Red-Brown Soils of the upper slopes, higher in
nitrogen and organic matter but
leached by high rainfall in areas far too


steep for agriculture, under forest

Montmorillonitic clay with silica pan, as
on the Southeast Peninsular, difficult to
farm lowland, similar to Nevis lowland

Subsequently, in 1963, two visiting
soil scientists (Lang and Carroll), carried out
the necessary field investigations, one on each
island as mentioned above, and completed a
greatly expanded pedogenetic profile of the
soils of both St. Kitts and Nevis, also prepar-
ing a new soil map for each island at 1:25,000
scale at the same time (see Lang and Carroll,
1966). They drew heavily upon the earlier
work of Hardy and Rodrigues in 1947 and
were further assisted in this endeavor by P.
Moss and J.K. Coulter of the University of the
West Indies.

Although the new classification sys-
tem involved 33 different soil types, they have
been divided and summarized into five main
groups as follows (Atkins, 1983):

Shallow soils over volcanic mate-
rials (12%);

Deep, strongly weathered kao-
linitic and allophanic clay and silt
soils from volcanic materials with


Red-Brown Earth (forest) 0.40% 11.5 7.9%
Sugar Cane Soils 0.11% 10.9 2.3%
Shoal Soil (St. Christopher) 0.12% 10.9 2.3%
Shoal Soil (Nevis) 0.14% 11.8 2.9%

Source: Hardy and Rodrigues, 1947.


1. Deep allophanic clay
2. Deep Kaolinitic clay
3. Deep coarse textured
4. Shallow coarse v.,-Lurea
5. Montmorillonitic clay with silica pan
6. Complex of shallow and deep soils

0 1 2 3 Miles

Figure 1.2(11). Soils distribution for the Island of St. Kitts (source: Atkins, 1983).

good physical
(Latosolics) (22%);


Deep, little weathered, sandy soils
from volcanic materials
(Protosols, Young soils) (45%)

Montmorillonitic clay soils, usu-
ally shallow and with a silica pan
(shoal soils) (19%);

Alluvial soils (1%) and other

The distribution of these soils is shown, pro-
portionally above and spatially in Figure

Since Lang and Carroll's St. Kitts
survey and its Nevis counterpart discussed
below were part of a larger region-wide ini-
tiative to prepare similar soil profiles, slope
analyses, and erosion susceptibility maps for
all the British West Indian territories, it is now
possible for other, more recent researchers to
assemble useful comparative tables and in-

formation displays that seek to convey more
complex relationships. One recent example is
presented as Figure 1.2(12). Upon closer in-
spection, however, it is clear that the figure,
although presented in a 1985 report, is in fact
based on Lang and Carroll (1966), without
appropriate acknowledgment.


As noted above, the first soil survey
of Nevis was conducted as recently as the
1940's, when researchers from the Imperial
College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad
produced both a soils map and report (Hardy
and Rodrigues, 1947). This work was acknow-
ledged and summarized by Merrill (1958) and
later cited by Halcrow (1966), among others.
In brief, Nevis had fewer soil types, more
problem soils, less good cane soil, and exten-
sive areas where good soil was rendered al-
most unusable because of a profusion of in-
terlayered rocks, clasts, and boulders.

Vertical Scale 1/12 500 Vertical Scale: 1/12.500
Okl Rood Molion
Town Village
80" 1 0" 120" 80" %"
2000 2000
e9 6 30 6 90 ,50d0'

Horizontl Scale' 1/25.000
1000 000E.

Tores, 1985, adapted from Lang and Carroll, 1966).

Feet 9000 6000 3000 0 3000 0 t0 Fel

S. W.E_-I-----N.E.

TorTes, 1985, adapted from Lang and Carroll, 1966).

The three primary soils types of Nevis
are as follows:

(1) A Red-Brown Earth at the sum-
mit of Nevis Peak. This soil is mature, but
strongly acidic and of little agricultural im-

(2) A Brown-Yellow Earth, which
encircles the area of the Red-Brown Earth
type. This is a good agricultural soil but con-
tains many boulders that limit mechanized
methods of cultivation.

(3) A "shoal" soil, which occurs in
low-lying areas. Lying on volcanigenic sedi-
ments, this soil is loamy but clayey and diffi-
cult to cultivate.

The 1947 survey work remained the
primary reference for Nevis until 1966, when
Lang and Carroll published their findings
from the earlier 1963 research referred to in
the section on St. Kitts above. Lang and
Carroll recognized 24 soil series, of which four
are variously subdivided into stony, rocky, and
stone-free phases. The soils recognized vary

in area from 16 acres, for both the Clay Ghaut
clay and the Sulphur Ghaut clay loam and
clay, to 7,400 acres for the bouldery phase of
the Charlestown clay loam and clay. Individ-
ual areas of soils recognized are as small as
two acres, and many are smaller than 40 acres.

Comparison of Lang aud Carroll
(1966) with Hardy and Rodrigues (1947) sug-
gests that the soil types may be related as fol-
lows. The Red-Brown Earth of the earlier
work corresponds to the Nevis Peak Silty clay
and clay loam of the later; the Brown-Yellow
Earth and the shoal soil of the earlier survey
both correspond to part of the Charlestown
clay loam and clay, with the shoal soil qualita-
tively corresponding to the bouldery phase of
the Charlestown series.

Although the Lang and Carroll study
(1966) remains generally unchallenged, it has
not escaped criticism. Knox (1986) notes that:

Soil descriptions given are too

Recommendations for soil man-
agement are few and general;

Distinctions among soils made in
the report are still to be demon-
strated convincingly in the field.

Knox concludes that an update of previous
work is required if Nevis and St. Kitts are to
make the most of its soil resources.

Darby, et al. (1987) updated the Lang
and Carroll maps in 1987 based on further
field observations and made extensive rec-
ommendations for soil conservation measures.
Figure 1.2(13) provides a very general differ-
entiation of soil types on Nevis according to
Lang and Carroll's classification system.

1.2.4 Vegetation

Within the climatic belt south of the
Tropic of Cancer, moisture-laden trade winds
are commonly forced upwards when they
confront the land mass of even small tropical
islands with prominent central peaks like St.
Kitts and Nevis. The cooled moisture in the
air precipitates as rain, falling most consis-
tently on the upper slopes. Therefore, island
vegetation at higher elevations receives the
highest rainfall, and the leeward side of the
island customarily receives slightly more rain
than the windward side because the air masses
and clouds formed at the peak move in a
westerly direction under the influence of the
prevailing winds. A simplified diagrammatic
presentation of this process, drawn from
Beard's famous study, The Natural Vegetation
of the Windward and Leeward Islands, is pro-
vided in Figure 1.2(14).

A second factor, additional to rain-
fall, that influences vegetational distribution
within islands like St. Kitts and Nevis is the
extraordinary variety of "micro-climates"
which can prevail in small island systems. Al-
titude, temperature, humidity, saltiness of the
air, the intensity and incidence of sunshine,
wind exposure, and soil type(s) all interact and
conspire to create numerous locally site-spe-
cific, variable "climates" within each island.
This suggests how impossible it is to speak ac-

curately about the "climate" of any one island
or even cluster of islands. Beard (1949) exag-
gerates only a little when he says, "Scarcely a
single acre in the islands has exactly the same
climate as its neighbour." Anyone who looks
closely can see evidence of these variations
because they are mirrored by each island's
mosaic-like overlay of diverse combinations of
natural vegetation. They are the very sub-
stance of the habitat side of biodiversity.
Without them, the landscape would be !ess
interesting, less colorful, and less productive.
It would also be more uniform and therefore
more at risk.

The flora of the Lesser Antilles em-
braces about 2,000 species of flowering plants,
of which, according to Beard (1949), 243 are
trees (a tree being a woody plant capable of
attaining a height of five meters at maturity).
Of these 243 species of trees, St. Kitts and
Nevis have approximately half or 121 species.
Table 1.2(5) shows the distribution among
different islands in the Eastern Caribbean.

The present vegetation of St. Kitts
and Nevis gives evidence of great disturbance
by human activity. In the lowland areas inten-
sive land use has removed all vestiges of the
natural vegetation and everywhere -- except in
urban Basseterre, Bird Rock, Frigate Bay and
on the Southeast Peninsula -- agricultural
crops prevail. The mountain peaks are still
covered by forest (see Section 2.1), but it is
quite unlikely any virgin forest remains irtact.
Most lower reaches of the forest are sec-
ondary growth on previously cleared, once
farmed but now abandoned upland marginal
cane land or provision grounds. There are
few places where charcoal burners have not
been; and undisturbed rain forest, not a large
area to begin with, is relatively rare on both
islands. The distribution of vegetation, as de-
picted by Beard more than forty years ago, is
shown as Figure 1.2(15).


The so-called travel literature of the
seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth cen-
turies contains a wide assortment of descrip-
tive accounts of the vegetation of St. Kitts

Figure 1.2(14). An Idealized transect through a moist Caribbean Island In the Lesser
Antilles (source: Beard, 1949).

(and Nevis as well). St. Christopher was de-
scribed by one of the original settlers as being
all "... overgrown with palmetos, cottontrees,
lignum vitae and divers other sorts but none
like any in Christendom" (Churchill, 1744-46).

But human occupation had its price, and the
forests were not only cleared for cane but also
were regularly used as a source of fuel in the
production of sugar. As a result, before the
end of the seventeenth century, planters on St.

Table 1.2(5). Tree species distribution by island in the Eastern Caribbean.

Total No. of Percent of No. of
Island Tree Species Tree Flora Endemics

St. Kitts-Nevis 121 50 13
Montserrat 132 54 17
Guadeloupe 193 78 43
Dominica 167 68 42
Martinique 181 74 47
St. Lucia 151 62 35
St. Vincent 151 62 29
Grenada 120 49 15

Source: Beard, 1949.


It o Booby 1.


St. Thor-as e 1. 3 N .?
O I 2 3 4 5
Scale of Miles

Savanna & Grazing Land CHARLESTOWN addle
Dry Scrub Woodlands
Rain Forest
Palm Brake
I ~ Elfin Woodland
Ii Il1 Secondary Forest

Figure 1.2(15). Beard's vegetation map of St. Kitts and Nevis (source: Beard, 1949).

Kitts were complaining to visitors about the
shortage of timber (Merrill, 1958).

Two hundred years later, at the be-
ginning of this century, Dr. N.L. Britton, Di-
rector in Chief of the New York Botanic Gar-
dens, visited St. Kitts and undertook a local
survey, reporting on it in the Garden's Journal
of 1901 just two years prior to passage of St.
Kitts' milestone "Forestry Act". Britton's re-
port later was to become a key segment of the
very popular 1920 St. Kitts-Nevis Handbook
written by Katherine Burdon, wife of the
Government Administrator at the time.
Burdon's useful book included, beyond vege-
tation, a wide variety of information on health,
geology, flora, fauna, agriculture, and climate
and was a creditable predecessor to this cur-
rent Profile being written some seventy years
later. Based on Britton's field work, the
Handbook identified five major vI.etation
types, occupying distinctive zones, which had
obviously been affected by several hundred
years of colonial occupation:

(1) Littoral Vegetative Belt. A halo-
phytic (salt tolerant) shoreline zone composed
of such species as seagrape (Coccoloba
uvifera) and three mangrove species
(Rhizophora mangle, Avicennia nitida, and
Laguncularia racemosa).

(2) Xerophytic Vegetative Belt. Dry
vegetation occupying low rocky hills and prin-
cipally composed of cacti (Cereus and Opuntia
spp.), Plumeria alba, Acacia famesiana, and
species of Rauwolfia and Euphorbia.

(3) Cultivated Belt. Composed of
agricultural crops, such as sugar cane and in-
troduced weed species.

(4) Mesophytic Flora. A forested
zone at mid-elevations, characterized by a va-
riety of forest trees.

(5) Mountain Summit Vegetation.
The windswept zone along ridge lines and as-
sociated windward slopes.

Britton's work included preparation of a list
of interesting and useful trees and shrubs. A
total of 77 species were included in that list
(Burdon, 1920).

Some forty years later, as World War
Two was distracting some, other public ser-
vants in the Caribbean were not so easily di-
verted from their appointed ways. First, the
Assistant Conservator of Forests for Trinidad
and Tobago, J.C. Cater, made a brief visit to
St. Kitts in the early 1940's in conjunction with
an evaluation of the forestry practices and as-
sociated issues in the Leeward Islands.
Cater's recommendations for a regional re-
search effort led to the most significant as-
sessment of the vegetation of St. Kitts (and
Nevis) ever undertaken. Under the aegis of
the Colonial Forest Service. J.S. Beard, as
part of a larger regional survey that had begun
in 1943, visited St. Kitts and Nevis in 1946 for
necessary field work and mapping. His classi-
fication scheme lists five major forest type
remnants in St. Kitts of the original vegetative
cover (see Figure 1.2(15)). Additional to
Beard, there is a sixth type composed of sec-
ondary forest resulting from abandonment of
agricultural land. Beard identified these five
forest associations:

(1) Rain Forest, of which 3eard says,
"Only two relatively small areas of first-class
undamaged rain forest were located in St.
Kitts, the one lying in the head-waters of the
Wingfield River and the other above Mansion
Estate." Where relatively undisturbed, gom-
mier (Dacryodes excelsa) was the principal
species, with an understory of regenerating
gommier, and palms (see Figure 1.2(16)).
Where disturbance was in evidence, which
Beard attributes to hurricanes, there is less
gommier in the overstory. Palms were re-
ported to compose 55 percent of the stems
counted in Beard's sample plot, at the dis-
turbed Mansion Estate site. (see Figure

(2) Dry Evergreen Forest. Beard
identified this as secondary forest occupying
lands below the rain forest. Twenty-one
species were enumerated by Beard and in-
cluded many intolerant, pioneer species.

(3) Palm Brake. This type was
found above elevations ranging from 1,200 to
1,800 feet. Beard reported, "The forest is
dominated by palms (always the mountain
cabbage, Euterpe globosa) which form over 60
percent of the total crop." Tree ferns (15

percent) and small trees (25 percent) made up
the balance of the stems in Beard's sample.
Approximately 10 tree species were shown to
grow in association with palms, and Beard re-
ported 800 stems per acre.

(4) Elfin Woodland. This is the
tropical alpine meadow reported by Cater.
Beard indicates this type occurring above
2,000 feet elevation. He describes it as "a low,
gnarled tangled growth, usually about 12 feet
high, loaded with moss and epiphytes and
matted with liness" Beard identified about 10
woody plants in this type.

(5) Dry Scrub Woodland. Beard
suggests this is principally isolated to the
Southeast Peninsula and has been heavily im-
pacted by past use. Beard identified 39
species and indicates this to have been origi-
nally a deciduous seasonal forest.

In the vicinity of the summit of Mt.
Misery (L.iamuiga), Beard reported a pioneer
community characteristic of volcanic ejecta
and observed also in Martinique, Guadeloupe,
St. Vincent and Dominica. In St. Kitts, this
vegetation, composed of mosses, lichens, ferns

and dwarf woody plants, covers the peak.
Beard suggested this unique vegetation is a
sub-climax type resulting from development
on volcanic material where soil is lacking.

A. distinguishing feature noted by
Beard in describing the vegetation of St. Kitts
was the surprising lack of well developed rain
forest. This he attributes to periodic stand
damage from passing hurricanes which cause
breakage and subsequent forking of larger
specimen trees. The resulting uneven forest
canopy allows additional light to penetrate
and encourages growth in adventitious or sec-
ond growth species which may not be part of
the climax forest type. A profile diagram of
the damaged rain forest at Mansion Estate is
provided as Figure 1.2(17). Beard contrasts
the disturbed Mansion Estate plot with a
more developed plot at Wingfield, referred to
previously, and concludes that hurricanes play
a major role in controlling composition and
complexity of forest vegetation and that peri-
odic disruption is variable due to storm di-
rection and intensity. The effect of storms is
undoubtedly an impact which continually
molds the forest cover and maintains much of
the forest in a pre-climax condition.

Ca. Cyathea arborea Sm.
Cl. Clusia sp.
D. acryodes excelsa Vahl
Ha. Hedosmum arborescens Sw.
L. Lauraceae (miscellaneous)
Mi. Miconia spp.
Mr. M-an aracemosa Sw.


Figure 1.2(16). Profile diagram of palm brake, measured above Wingfield,
St. Kitts, by Beard; all the palms are Euterpe globosa
(source: Beard, 1949).

Aa. Aegiphila martinicensis Jacq.
Cs. Cordia sulcata DC.
D. crdes excelsa Vahl
Ht. Hirtella triandra Sw.
L. Lauraceae (Miscellaneous)
R. Rubiaceae (miscellaneous)
Sm. Symplocos martinicensis Jacq.
Sp. Sapium caribaeum Urb.
E -
30 -1too0

25-. 80


*H~^l4^ -rpSfc?'"'^*)^\:D

T2 0 ^^^ r^ ^ ^ iT^ -^'

Figure 1.2(17). Profile diagram of ruinate rain forest in St. Kitts, measured at Mansion Estate (source: Beard, 1949).


The vegetative zones of Nevis follow
the pattern typical of small, volcanic
Caribbean islands (see Figure 1.2(14)).
Beard's 1949 vegetation report (see above) on
St. Kitts-Nevis included a distinct, separate
section on Nevis, in which he took note of the
extensive secondary scrub woodlands and
thornbush amidst the cultivated acreage in the
lowlands. He further observed:

Good high forest is only seen on the
north-western face of the main moun-
tain above Jessup's, where protection
from the prevailing wind has enabled a
good stand of rain forest to develop.
At the head of the Stapleton River on
the north-east there is also some high
forest but it is somewhat ruinate.
Elsewhere on the mountains the slopes
are so steep and exposed that the belt
of low secondary woodland adjoining
cultivated lands at the foot is very
quickly succeeded by palm brake which
continues right up to tLe summit.
(Beard, 1949).

Nevis has, according to the Beard sys-
tem of classification, six vegetation zones
(Figure 1.2(15)). They are: rain forest, dry
evergreen forest, montane thicket, palm
brake, elfin woodland and dry scrub wood-
land. To be technically correct, three addi-
tional lesser zones should be included: man-
grove swamp, littoral woodland and dry zone
flora (Figure 1.2(18)). Although the dry ever-
green forest and the dry zone flora are prod-
ucts of the same climatic conditions, they dif-
fer in that the latter consists of secondary for-
est regenerating from abandoned agricultural
land, whereas the former is natural vegetation.
The rest of the zones differ due to varying
moisture conditions, vwind exposure and/or

(1) Rain Forest and Humid Forest.
The only substantial stand of tall forest is on
the northwestern side of the mountain above
Jessups. Abundant rainfall and protection
from the prevailing winds allow the trees to
grow to a considerable height and form a
dense canopy. The dominant species are the
mountain cabbage palm (Euterpe globosa),

gumlin (Dacryodes excelsa), and burrwood
(Slonea truncata).

The humid forest zone surrounds the
mountain and resembles the rain forest in
species content. However, due to the steep-
ness of the slope and high wind exposure, the
trees are smaller and do not form a dense
canopy. This allows for a more luxuriant
herbaceous ground vegetation to form. Red-
wood (Coccolobis diversifolia) is more promi-
nent here possibly due to the drier conditions.

In both the humid and rain forest
zones, the species diversity is low
(approximately 25 distinct species). However,
this feature is not uncommon in the Lesser
Antilles (Beard, 1949).

(2) Elfin Woodland. The summit of
Nevis Peak is covered with low, gnarled, tan-
gled growth. This forest is usually under three
meters high and laden with moss and epi-
phytes and matted with lianas.

Woody plants are very low growing
due to very high wind exposure, and herba-
ceous plants are quite common. The most
common plant is a bromeliad which appears
to be an undescribed species of Guzmania.
Orchids, mosses, ferns, anoids and grasses are
also abundant (Beard, 1949).

(3) Montane Thicket. Beard (1949)
discovered only a thin belt of montane thicket
on Nevis, located just above the rain forest on
the west side of the mountain. Tb;s area is
dominated by weedee (Podocarpus coriceus)
and mountain cabbage palm. This pole stage
forest contains no l-ge trees except for an oc-
casional large weedee, usually bent and

(4) Palm Brake. Palm brake is a
band of montane forest located on very steep
slopes or in areas exposed to high winds. This
zone is dominated by mountain cabbage palm,
and the rest of the forest consists of tree ferns
(Cyathea arborea) and small trees.

On Nevis, palm brake occurs on the
mountain slopes above 550 m on the eastern
and southern slopes and above 700 m on the
northern and western slopes; this band



l~ .j*



Figure 1.2(18). Vegetation zones for Nevis (source: Rodriques, 1990b).

extends almost to the summit where it is re-
placed by elfin woodland. In some places
slopes are so steep that even palms cannot
persist, and they give way to patches of tree
ferns (Beard. 1949). The limiting factor in
tree growth here may be wind exposure.
Palms and tree ferns are dominant because
their trunks are flexible and can bend with
heavy winds. Other more rigid trees must
remain small or be blown over.

(5) Dry Scrub Woodlands. The low
hills of Nevis (e.g., Round Hill and Saddle
Hill) consist of a patchy, scrub woodland. The
prominent trees are various species of Acacia
and Cassia. Also present are century plant
(Agave americana), Prickly Pear Cactus
(Opuntia rubescens), and Pope's Head or
Barrel Cactus (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
(Merrill, 1958). Most of the southern coast of
the island from the Bath Plain to Indian Cas-
tle consists of cactus scrub woodland.

(6) Dry Evergreen Forest. The
lower slopes of Nevis Peak that extend north
and east are covered with an evergreen forest
of small trees. The most prominent trees are
white cedar (Tabebuia heterophylla), black
mast (Diosyros ebenaster) and loblolly
(Pisonia fragrans) (Beard, 1949).

(7) Mangrove Woodland.. A series
of white mangrove stands (Laguncularia
racemosa) surround fresh or brackish water
lagoons on the western and northern coastal
regions of the island. Good stands of white
mangroves still exist at Newcastle Bay,
Pinneys Estate and the mouth of the Bath
Stream (Rodrigues, 1990b).

(8) Littoral Woodland. A thin belt
of coastal vegetation exists on most of the un-
altered areas of the Nevis coastline. Due to
oce.ln spray exposure, these plants are usually
res'6tant to salty conditions. A vital function
of this vegetation zone is to prevent wave ero-
sion, for sand and soil are held in place by the
plants (Rodrigues, 1990b).

(9) Dry Zone Flora. This zone has
the greatest diversity in species and covers the
most land (approximately 75 percent of the
total landmass in Nevis). This entire zone is
the result of past land cleaning for agricultural

purposes, and thus very little of the original
vegetation still exists (Robinson, 1988). How-
ever, in recent years, much of this land has
been abandoned and is now reverting back to
wildlands consisting of bushy pioneer forest.

The dominant species are logwood
(Haematoxylum camechianum), wild tamarind
(Leucaena leucocephala), loblolly, acacia,
genip and clammy cherry (Cordia collococca).
Many agricultural and ornamental species
have also become wild and can now be con-
sidered part of the natural vegetation.

N.B. Tables listing the species for all
of the above vegetation groupings are avail-
able from the .evis Historical and Conserva-
tion Society. Tables show both scientific and
common names (when a common name is



The 1980 census enumerated a pop-
ulation of 33,881 in St. Kitts and 9,428 in
Nevis; both islands recorded a decrease in
population over the 1970 census (see Table
1.3(1)). The 1991 census questionnaire is be-
ing pre-tested over a two week period begin-
ning August 13, 1990, and a census day is offi-
cially scheduled for May 12, 1991.

The most notable demographic fea-
ture about St. Kitts and Nevis over the past
100 years (Table 1.3(1)) has been the remark-
able stability of the population, a trend main-
tained because of a strong migration tradition
which has served as a kind of population
safety valve (for an account of the population
history of SKN see Richardson, 1983 and
Bouvier, 1984). When the population of the
ccentry is disaggregated by island, substan-
tially greater proportional loss is evident in
Nevis after 1946, through internal migration to
St. Kitts and emigration. St. Kitts experienced
population losses during 1901-1921 and again

Table 1.3(1). Population and growth rates, St. Kitts and Nevis, 1844-1980.

during 1960-1980, two periods in its history
when there was considerable emigration.

Given the fragile nature of insular
Caribbean environments and their finite land
area and absorptive capacity, the question of
future population growth and distribution
shoulC be one of the top priorities for policy
makers in the 1990's. In the face of declining
opportunities for emigration and increasing
return migration and some immigration,
GOSKN needs to formulate a population
policy that takes into consideration future
manpower needs which will be generated by
proposed tourism development and related
construction in both islands.

This policy should consider ways to
attract home Kittitians and Nevisians living
abroad and should also evaluate the long-term
effects of importing agricultural and other
labor from the Windward Islands and else-
where in the region (Trinidad, Guyana,
Dominican Republic and Haiti).


Table 1.3(2) shows the estimated
mid-year population for St. Kitts and Nevis for
selected years from 1970-1987. These esti-
mates were derived by balancing and re-esti-
mating the data derived from GOSKN's
Statistics Division and McElroy and
deAlbuquerque, 1988a. Absolute declines in
the population of St. Kitts occurred between
1971 and 1976 and in Nevis between 1970 and
1980, indicative of the fact that during this pe-
riod emigration exceeded natural increase. In
the 1980's, there have been perceptible in-
creases in the population of St. Kitts-Nevis as
emigration has slowed. Based on research
during the period 1989-1990, one investigator
has estimated that the rate of population
growth increased significantly during 1988-
1990 (natural increase was augmented by re-
turn migration and some immigration) and
has projected that the 1991 census should
enumerate a population of between 37,000
and 39,000 in St. Kitts (K. deAlbuquerque,

YEAR Population Avg. Annual Population Avg. Annual
Growth Rate (%) (Growth Rate (%)

1844 23,177 9,571
1861 24,440 0.31 9,822 0.15
1871 28,169 1.42 11,703 1.75
1881 29,137 0.34 11,864 0.14
1891 30,876 0.58 13,087 0.98
1901 29,782 -0.36 12,774 -0.24
1911 26,283 -1.25 12,945 0.13
1921 22,415 -1.59 11,569 -1.12
1946 29,818 1.14 11,388 -0.06
1960 38,113 1.75 12,770 0.08
1970 34,077 -1.12 11,250 -1.27
1980 33,881 -0.06 9,428 -1.77

Sources: UK Government, West Indian Census (Part F), 1946.
CARICOM/ECLAC, 1985 (1980-1981 Population Census of SKN).

Table 1.3(2). Selected demographic Indicators.1

INDICATOR 1970 1974 1976 1980 1984 1987

Est. mid-year population (SK/N)2
St. Kitts
Pop. density St. Kitts (per sq km)
Crude birth rate (per 1000)3
Crude death rate (per 1000)3
Rate of natural increase (%)
Est. population growth (%)
Total fertility rate (%)
Births to teenage mothers as a %
of all births
Infant mortality rate
Arrivals from the USVI
Departures to the USVI
Total arrivals (1000s)
Total departures (1000s)







43,709 45,210
33,881 35,219
9,428 9,991
125.8 130.7
26.4 24.1
11.1 10.7
1.53 1.34
1.30 .07
3.9 3.0






Notes: 1 Unless specified, all data refer to St. Kitts and Nevis.
2 Mid-year estimates have been smoothed and revised by the author.
3 Birth and death rates were not computed from revised mid-year population estimates.

Source: Statistics Division, GOSKN; McElroy and deAlbuquerque, 1988a.

unpublished report prepared for CEP project,
1990). Some observers suggest that a 1991
population of 40,000 for St. Kitts is not unre-

Two attempts (Bouvier, 1984 and
ECLAC, n.d.) have been made to project the
population of SKN to 2030 and 2015, respec-
tively. Unfortunately, both projections are of
dubious reliability since their assumptions re-
garding fertility, and especially migration, now
appear to be incorrect. For example, under
the ECLAC medium projection, the total fer-
tility rate (TFR) was projected to decline to
replacement level (2.1) by the year 2000 (a
plausible, but conservative assumption, given
current trends in the TFR), while net migra-

tion was assumed to be minus 400 persons a
year, an assumption that is quite erroneous
given what is actually happening in the twin-
island state.


St. Kitts' population density of 209
persons per square kilometer (1987) is aver-
age by OECS standards. When population
densities are disaggregated by parish (Table
1.3(3)), densities range from a low of 90 per-
sons per square kIdometer in St. Thomas to
nearly 550 persons in Basseterre (1990 esti-

Table 1.3(3). Population distribution of St. Kitts by parish, 1921-1980.

Table 1.3(3) also displays changes inh,
the population distribution between 1921 and
1980. In 1960, 41 percent of the population of
St. Kitts resided in Basseterre. By 1970 this
figure stood at 38 percent and by 1980 it had
risen 6 percentage points to 42 percent. Be-
tween 1960 and 1970 the town of Basseterre
saw its population decline by some 18 percent,
but in the decade of the 1970's, Basseterre's
population grew by 10.9 percent (see Figure
1.3(1)). Thomas (1989) assumes the same
10.9 percent growth in the population of
Basseterre between 1980 and 1990 and esti-
mates that the Greater Basseterre area, cov-
ering 32.5 square kilometers, will account for
52 percent of the total population of St. Kitts
in 1990. This figure is bound to increase sig-
nificantly by the year 2000 given current de-
velopment plans for the Greater Basseterre
area (e.g., Bird Rock extension Phase II, sev-
eral low income housing projects, a new
middle-income housing project, and several
new industrial and commercial develop-

With projected increases in the pop-
ulation, particularly in the Basseterre/Greater
Basseterre area, densities will rise, and issues
related to urbanization/suburbanization will
require significant planning attention. Unlike
the densely populated islands of Barbados,
Bermuda, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and New
Providence, where mass tourism has severely
compounded density related problems, St.
Kitts is fortunate in having developments like
Frigate Bay and the Southeast Peninsula
which, because of their relative distance from
the main populated areas, should effectively
minimize the density related impact of large
numbers of tourists.

The island of Nevis registered a pop-
ulation of approximately 9,428 persons in 1980
(Table 1.3(1)), giving it an average population
density of 102 persons per square km (total
land area calculated at 93.5 sq km) (see Table
1.3(4)). The settlement pattern in Nevis is
linear and dispersed. Charlestown is the
largest settlement, although other parishes
have larger populations but smaller settle-
ments due to land ownership patterns and the

Parish/Town 1921 1946 1960 1970 1980 1921-60 1960-70 1970-80

Basseterre 7,736 12,194 15,579 12,771 14,161 101.4 -18.0 10.9
St. George
remainder 175 663 614 1,079 122 250.9 75.7 -88.7
St. Paul 1,380 1,761 2,278 2,071 2,080 65.1 -9.1 0.4
St. Ann 2,644 2,913 3,648 3,300 3,145 38.0 -9.5 -4.7
St. Thomas 2,056 2,177 2,529 2,195 2,255 23.0 -13.2 2.7
Trinity 846 877 1,184 1,066 1,161 40.0 -10.0 8.9
Christ Church 1,531 1,999 2,248 2,091 1,989 46.8 -7.0 -4.9
St. John 3,194 3,240 4,152 3,401 3,163 30.0 -18.1 -7.0
St. Mary 1,781 2,326 3,575 3,381 3,308 100.7 -5.4 -2.2
St. Peter 1,072 1,698 2,306 2,389 2,497 115.1 3.6 4.5

TOTALS 22,415 29,818 38,113 33,744 33,881

Sources: UK Government, West Indian Census (Part F), 1946.
CARICOM/ECLAC, 1985 (1980-1981 Population Census of SKN).

generally dispersed settlement pattern. This
dispersion reflects the dissolution of the
plantation system and the establishment of in-
dependent farms (see Figure 1.3(2)).


Table 1.3(2) shows remarkable sta-
bility in the crude birth rate between 1970 and
1987, although there is some evidence that
birth rates are beginning to decline. The TFR
has shown considerable decline since 1980 and
is currently estimated at 2.6 (Population Ref-
erence Bureau, 1990). With the continuing
entry of women into the labor force, and if the
experience of Antigua is any guide, the TFR
should decline to replacement level, or below,
by 2000. In the short term, declining fertility

should be more than offset by declining mor-
tality and increasing return migration.


Like birth rates, crude death rates
have remained relatively stable over the last
two decades. With general improvements in
the standard of living and health care, mortal-
ity rates should decline fairly rapidly during
the 1990's to somewhere between five and six
per 1,000 population. Indeed, health care ser-
vices in St. Kitts-Nevis compare favorably to
that of other OECS territories like Antigua,
Dominica, St. Lucia, which traditionally have
had much lower infant and general mortality

Table 1.3(4). 1980 population density by parish, Nevis.

The infant mortality rate in St. Kitts-
Nevis (higher in St. Kitts than in Nevis) is high
in comparison to other OECS countries and
poses a particularly vexing problem to health
care professionals in the twin-island state. In
a study undertaken on the status of women
and children in SKN, Chevannes (1989) rec-
ommended improvements in nutrition and
health care of children and a coordinated na-
tional health education campaign aimed at
young expectant mothers. It is expected that

in the 1990's, infant and child mortality in the
country will be brought more into line with
the OECS average (about 20 per 1,000 live


Like most Eastern Caribbean sori-
eties, St. Kitts-Nevis has had a long migration
tradition, with islanders migrating to the

Parish Land Area (sq km) Population Density

St. Paul 3.5 1,243 355
St. John 21.5 2,224 104
St. George 18.5 2,295 124
St. Thomas 18.1 1,975 109
St. James 31.1 1,691 54

Source: CARICOM/ECLAC, 1985.

r Uninhabited
E-' Light
-ISM Dense

S i u 12 3

RFigure 1.3(2). Nevis population density (ECNAMP, 1980a, based on 1975 data).

Bermuda dockyards in the early 1900's, to the
United States and the cane fields of the
Dominican Republic during the period 1900-
1930 (1924 for the United States), to the
United Kingdom, Aruba and Curacao in the
1950's, and to the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI),
the United States, and Canada in the 1960's
and 1970's (Richardson, 1983; McElroy and
deAlbuquerque, 1988a and 1988b). Emigra-
tion to the U.S. Virgin Islands declined sig-
nificantly after 1973 (McElroy and
deAlbuquerque, 1988a); yet the U.S. Virgin
Islands remained the most popular destination
for emigrai.Ls through the 1970's and early
1980's (see 'fable 1.3(2) for estimated migra-
tion to the USVI). The 1980 census in the
USVI identified a total of 6,539 persons who
had been born in St. Kitts-Nevis, this group
constituting the largest single group of East-

ern Caribbean immigrants to this American
territory. As mauy of these persons reach re-
tirement and near retirement in the 1990's,
they should begin to return to the country in
increasingly large numbers.

Table 1.3(5) shows estimates of net
migration for various intercensal periods for
1980-1987. It is clear from the data that the
1960's was the decade of greatest emigration,
that during the 1970's the number of emi-
grants was reduced to half, and that in the
1980's emigration slowed down to barely 173
persons a year. These net migration estimates
should be accepted advisedly since they are
subject to coverage and registration errors.
The 1980-1987 estimates should be inter-
preted even more cautiously since they are
based on 1987 estimates of the population.

Table 1.3(5). Components of population change In St. Kitts and Nevis, 1921-1987.

Island/Components 1921-46 1946-60 1960-70 1970-80 1980-1987

St. KItts/Nevis
Intercensal change
Registered births
Registered deaths
Natural Increase
Implied net migration

St. Kitts
Intercensal change
Registered births
Registered deaths
Natural Increase
Implied net migration

Intercensal change
Registered births
Registered deaths
Natural increase
Implied net migration




10,450 -5,556
19,307 1 12,100
-8,857 .17,656



NOTE: 1 Includes Anguilla.

Sources: UK Government, 1946; CARICOM/ECLAC, 1985; Statistics Division, GOSKN.





As suggested above, all indirect evi-
dence points to positive net migration after
1986 with a significant number of islanders
returning from the UK and the USVI and to a
lesser extent from the United States and
Canada. In addition, there has been some
return migration from the Dominican
Republic and also some immigration of per-
sons from the Dominican Republic and the
UK who can claim citizenship because one or
both their parents had been born in St. Kitts-
Nevis. As the economy of the country contin-
ues to expand, it will create a demand for a
wide range of occupational skills not available
locally, and while this demand can be met ini-
tially by returning Kittitians and Nevisians
living abroad, eventually St. Kitts-Nevis will
complete the migration transition from a la-
bor-exporting to labor-importing society (see
McElroy and deAlbuquerque, 1988b).

Like many Leeward Islands, St. Kitts-
Nevis is also attracting a steady stream of
North American retirees, with Nevis histori-
cally the preferred destination of these re-
tirees. Added to this group are a growing
number of North American and European
entrepreneurs, professionals and technicians,
drawn primarily by opportunities in the ex-
panding tourism sector, resulting in a small
but economically significant nucleus of white
expatriates in the cc',ntry.


Figure 1.3(3) shows the age-sex
pyramids for St. Kitts-Nevis in 1960, 1970 and
1980. For all three census periods, the pyra-
mids show noticeable waitingng" the result of
heavy emigration. This waiting is most ap-
parent among the 20-44 year old age group
(especially in 1970), the age group that is most
likely to be depleted through emigration. In
the 1980 pyramid the waiting is less severe,
particularly among the 20-29 year old age
group, which obviously experienced markedly
reduced opportunities for emigration in the
1970's. Some return migration during the pe-
riod 1970-1980 is also discernible in the older
age groups (60 and above), which by 1980 had
almost doubled in size. Sex differentials in
emigration are also apparent in the charac-
teristically lower male share of the working-

age groups (20-49) during all three census pe-

Slight declines in the birth rate and
drastically reduced emigration have combined
to reduce the dependency ratio in both St.
Kitts and Nevis. (The "dependency ratio" is
defined as that proportion of the population
under 15 and over 64, per each 100 persons
aged 15-64.) In 1970 the total dependency ra-
tio in St. Kitts was 124, by 1980 it had declined
to 86, and by 1987 it was estimated at 77.
Projected increases in life expectancy and in
return migration should predictably result in
increases in the aged dependency ratio, while
the youth dependency ratio should fall with
declining fertility.


Table 1.3(6) shows that public school
enrollment has declined substantially in the
1980's (a similar, but less marked, decline is
observed in private school enrollment), largely
because of the shrinking pool of school-aged
children. Enrollment declines are not equally
spread throughout the school system, with ru-
ral primary schools experiencing greater de-
clines, while in some urban schools over-
crowding is common. Staff-pupil ratios in St.
Kitts-Nevis compare quite favorably with
other OECS countries -- with a staff-pupil ra-
tio in 1987 of 24 at the primary) level and 15 at
the secondary. Educational performance is
generally good, with students obtaining better
pass percentages in the Caribbean Examina-
tion Council's (and other external) examina-
tions than their counterparts in Antigua, St.
Lucia and Grenada.


Statistics on the labor force show a 22
percent decline in the total labor force during
1980-87 (Table 1.3(6)). This decline is
perplexing -- given the expansion in the coun-
try's economy, the increasing entry of women
into the labor force, greater labor force par-
ticipation rate and declining unemployment;
and it raises questions concerning the validity
of labor force statistics. The statistics never-
theless do reveal a trend towards increasing



Percent of Total Po

Females 40-44
**** 1 5-19

4 6 8 10




Females 40-44
** :. -10-14

Percent of Total Population

Females 45-49


0o 4 024 68
Percent of Total Population

Figure 1.3(3). Age-sex pyramids, St. Kitts-Nevis, 1960,1970, and 1980.

female labor force participation. In fact, given
current trends in manufacturing (women
workers overwhelmingly dominate the electro-
assembly and garment industries) and hotel
employment and declining employment in
agriculture and the sugar industry, the domi-
nance of women in the labor force should be a
noticeable factor in the 1990's.

Most of the projected demand for
service workers in the tourist industry in the
1990's can be met locally. However, as labor

continues to be competed away from the agri-
cultural sector, shortages of agricultural labor
will have to be made up by the importation of
workers form the Windward Islands. Vincen-
tian cane cutters were imported to help with
the 1990 sugar harvest, but despite the use of
imported laborers and the widespread use of
mechanical harvesters, a significant portion of
the sugar crop was left unharvested. The
gradual phase-out of sugar in the 1990's
should free up a significant amount of labor,
but if agricultural wages remain low, these


Table 1.3(6). Selected soclo-economic Indicators, 1975-1987,

former sugar workers will be competed away
from agriculture to better paying jobs in other
sectors of the economy.


By all measures (rural electrification,
electricity consumption, number of telephone
subscribers, building construction, bank de-
posits, tourism receipts, real per capital GDP,
etc.), Kittitian/Nevisian society has undergone
a remarkable transformation in the 1980's, the
result of moving toward a more diversified
economy in both islands. With improvements
in the standard of living/purchasing power
and liquidity in the banking system, an un-
precedented number of islanders have been
able to finance niew home construction and
purchase automobiles and a whole range of
consumer durables. Indeed, so great has de-
mand been for some modern ser-
vices/conveniences, that supply has been un-
able to meet demand. This is most evident in
the area of telephones. Although the number

of telephone subscribers increased by the
phenomenal rate of 289 percent during the
period 1980-87 (Table 1.3(6)), SKANTEL has
a long list of persons waiting for telephone

Since much of this remarkable
transformation is the result of tourism devel-
opment and related construction, GOSKN has
hinged its future development plans on the
expansion of the tourism industry (the manu-
facturing sector is relatively stagnant and
shows little promise of significant growth in
the 1990's). Even though the infrastructure
for the Southeast Peninsula in St. Kitts
(Government's most ambitious tourism de-
velopment project) is already in place, devel-
opment of the Peninsula must be managed
wisely to minimize the kinds of environmental,
infrastructural and social impac' so visible in
mass tourist destinations like St. Maarten and
St. Thomas. Already, at least one major de-
velopment (the Four Seasons Hotel in Nevis)
is having an adverse impact on the water sup-
ply on Nevis (see Section 2.2 of the Profile).

INDICATOR 1975 1980 1982 1984 1986 1987

Population per physician 2,039 2,055 2,103 2,141
Population per dentist 8,972 9,042 9,254 9,421
Population per hospital bed 131 182 179 190
School enrollment (all levels)* 13,544 11,363 11,265 10,934 10,717 10,572
Total labor force 7,219 6,295 6,281 6,230 5,629
Percent women in labor force 39.9 40.4 42.7 46.7 48.1
Property crime rate (per 100,000) 1,617 1,769 1,856 2,213 2,070
Violent crime rate (per 100,000) 755 651 553 659 679
Total stayover visitors (1000s) 31.0 34.6 39.9 56.8 66.7
Cruise ship visitors (1000s) 6.2 5.8 11.1 34.1 27.0 31.4
Total no. of hotel beds 550 878 825 895 1,003 1,046
No. of telephone subscribers 1,900 1,900 3,000 4,200
Total no. of licensed vehicles 2,856 3,359 3,783 4,178 4,502 4,853

NOTE: Does not include private schools.

Sources: GOSKN Statistics Diviski Planning Unit; Investigation Division, Royal SI(N Police Force.

The environmental consequences of
the modernization of the country's society and
economy are everywhere visible. New home
construction has led to an unprecedented de-
mand for sand, and given the cost of imported
sand, beach sand mining is a daily occurrence
in many areas, e.g., at Sandy Point (the Fig
Tree area) and at Conaree in St. Kitts. Litter
is much more visible in town areas of both is-
lands and in various rural communities, the
result of increasing dependence on imported
foods, drinks and other items that come in
disposable containers and packaging (see also
Section 6 of the Profile). With a brewery and
soft drink bottling plant in St. Kitts, which
produces a wide range of alcoholic and non-
alcoholic drinks, there appears to be little rea-
son to import alcoholic and soft drinks in dis-
posable bottles and cans.

As noted in Section 1.1, the aware-
ness of the environment as a social issue has
been late in coming to St. Kitts-Nevis, but
through the efforts of the St. Christopher
Heritage Society and building on the work of
the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society,
along with some more recent planning efforts
by Government (e.g., for the SEP), environ-
mental concerns should increasingly find their
way into the development planning arena in
the 1990's.


St. Kitts and Nevis were colonized by
Great Britain primarily for sugar and Sea Is-
land cotton export. From colonial times to
the present, sugar in particular has dominated
the economic landscape. Following sugar's
peak in the 1880's, the economy stagnated and
the population steadily declined as workers
emigrated to other islands, the United States,
Britain, and more recently the U.S. Virgin Is-
lands (Richardson, 1983). The present popu-
lation has been relatively stationary since 1980
and is approximately the same as it was nearly
a century ago in 1891 (see Section 1.3 on De-

The structure of today's economy is
marked by three major features. (NB. There
are limited data available which distinguish
between economic activity in St. Kitts and in
Nevis, and unfortunately marked differences
in the economic output of each island may be
lost or suppressed when both data sets are
combined.) First, the economy continues to
be heavily dependent on foreign dollars that
stream into the two-island Federation from
five different sources:

export sales,

tourist spending,

wages remitted from off-island

foreign investors, and

foreign government and bank
loans primarily for infra-

Very crude calculations indicate that,
on the average, one foreign dollar injected
into the economy from these sources creates
slightly more than one dollar in SKN Gross
Domestic Product (GDP).

Second, the economy is dominated by
St. Kitts, the seat of government, location of
the deep water port, and center of tourist,
sugar, and manufacturing activity. This larger
island contains two-thirds of the total land
area and three-fourths of the population and
accounts for over 85 percent of all visitors.
The smaller island of Nevis is characterized by
small-holder agriculture, livestock grazing,
fishing and relatively small-scale tourism.
Government services are also an important
part of the Nevis economy and GOSKN is a
significant employer. Remittances sent home
by Nevisians working abroad have tradition-
ally been important to the local economy, al-
though not reflected in standard financial ac-
counts. There is some evidence that these
money receipts may now be declining.

Third, the economy has for some
time been diversifying away from traditional
sugar and cotton exports toward tourism, con-
struction, light manufacturing and local

Table 1.4(1). St. Kitts-Nevis GDP at factor cost by economic activity
in current prices, percent distribution.

INDICATOR 1977 1988 Change

GDP (EC$ millions) 70.9 263.2 192.3

Percent shares
Agriculture 22.1 10.2 -11.9
Manufacturing 17.6 11.5 -6.1
Construction 9.3 11.8 2.5
Hotels/Restaurants 2.0 9.4 7.4
Government 16.6 20.8 4.2
Other1 32.4 36.3 3.9
TOTAL 100.0 100.0

Per Capita GDP in constant
(1977) prices 1,638 3,4002 1,762

Total Stayover Tourists
(1000s) 26.3 69.6 43.3

Number of Hotel Rooms 395 854 459

NOTES: 1 Includes primarily transport, banking/realty, retail trade and other services.
2 Computed by deflating GDP by the 1977 price Index for 1988 (121.57) and dividing
by the estimated population of 44,000.

Sources: GOSKN, 1984, 1989b.

agriculture (McElroy and deAlbuquerque,
1988b). Table 1.4(1) takes two recent
snapshots for 1977 and 1988 that mark this
transition. The figures indicate the continued
decline in sugar and cotton production since
the GDP shares of agriculture and
manufacturing (historically sugar processing
has represented roughly half of all
manufacturing) fell a combined 18 pe: "'ntage
points. The most rapidly expanding sector
was hotel and restaurant activity and related
tourist sectors such as construction and other
services (transport, banking/realty, etc.). It
was a decade of major change as the number
of visitors, the number of hotel rooms, and the

level of per capital GDP

all more than


Recent performance indicates the
economy is stabilizing and developing a re-
silience to unfavorable external shocks. For
example, of the 1,340 jobs lost in sugar fields
and factory w rk during the period between
1981-1987, in part as a result of sharp declines
in U.S. sugar import quotas, over 40 percent
or 550 new jobs wer, directly created in the
two new export sectors of tourism and manu-
facturing (GOSKN, 1989b). New manufac-

turning jobs contributed three-fourths of this
total. Other major employment gains are at-.
tributed primarily to domestic agriculture,
new private and public construction, and ex-
panded government services. As a result of
this increasing capacity to adjust, the standard
of living continue: to rise. Between 1981 and
1988, the number of telephone subscribers
more than tripled, tourism receipts tripled,
bank deposits doubled, and the proportion of
housing made of concrete and of wood and
concrete combined rose 50 percent.

The strength of the new export sec-
tors plus ongoing commercial, residential and
infrastructure construction (like the Southeast
Peninsula access road in St. Kitts) have also
enabled SKN to weather major financial
storms. The early 1980's witnessed worldwide
recession, falling private investment, annual
fiscal deficits, high interest rates and sharply
rising local and foreign government borrowing
(McElroy and deAlbuquerque, 1990). Be-
tween 1981 and 1985, the average annual ex-
cess of Government expenditures over rev-
enues was above four percent of GDP. Since
1986, however, rising fiscal surpluses have
been achieved by improved tax collections,
new revenue measures and reduced expendi-
ture growth. Local inflation has been slowed
considerably. Provisional data indicate that
these positive fiscal trends have continued
through 1988 and 1989 (ECCB, 1989). No
other Caribbean countries except Dominica
and Jamaica have accomplished such a favor-
able fiscal turn-around over the decade
(World Bank, 1988a).

These fiscal improvements have en-
abled SKN to augment domestic resources for
further diversification in two ways. First, the
islands' capacity for external borrowing has
risen. Current foreign capital requirements
for the 1988-90 period to finance tourist in-
frastructure and related utilities in the Frigate
Bay resort area and the Southeast Peninsula
are among the highest in the Caribbean, aver-
aging EC$890 on a per capital yearly basis
(World Bank, 1988a). Second, increasing
funds from foreign borrowing and strong
tourism spending have allowed SKN to fi-
nance expensive infrastructure imports,
building materials and machinery for residen-

tial construction, and food and gift items for
tourist consumption.


A variety of specific policies have
been initiated during the 1980's to foster di-
versification in the targeted sectors of agri-
culture, manufacturing and tourism (GOSKN,
1987c/d). Two agricultural goals have re-
ceived the most attention: stabilizing the sur-
viving sugar industry on a reduced scale and
diversifying into small-holder domestic food
crops and fishing. The data indicate new
strategies are needed to reverse long-term de-
clines in the number of farms and acreage in
farms (see Table 1.4(2)).

These falling trends have accelerated
since 1975 as tourism has intensified. During
the six years between 1981-1987, sugar
production fell by one-fifth, sugar employment
fell by one-third, and cotton output declined
over 50 percent (see Table 1.4(2)). Despite
the very recent success of white potatoes,
most domestic food crop production also fell
steadily. These decreases occurred when
labor shortages intensified in sugar as the di-
vergence between acres cultivated versus acres
harvested rose. By 1987 over one-fourth of
the potential crop was left standing. In addi-
tion to weak foreign demand conditions, sugar
continues to be plagued by dry weather and
labor shortages caused by steady emigration
and wage competition from the expanding
sectors. During the 1980's, hotel and/or
manufacturing employees and construction
workers earned two and three times more, re-
spectively, than cane field workers
(CARICOM, 1984).

In Nevis, agriculture is still a rela-
tively important source of employment; in
1986 the sector employed 300 people and pro-
vided 30 percent of the island's domestic veg-
etable requirement. Sea Island cotton, the is-
land's most important export crop, provides
some of the best quality lint in the world.
Production declined drastically from 3,000
acres during g the 1950's to only 38 acres by
1980 (GOSKN, 1987d). Rehabilitation efforts
during the last decade saw 124 acres planted
in 1985-1986, but the 1989 harvest was again

Table 1.4(2). Selected agricultural Indicators, St. Kitts-Nevis.


Number of farms
Acreage In farms

Sugar employment
Cotton (tons)
Sugar cane (1,000s tons)
Sugar cultivated (1,000s acres)
Sugar harvested (1,000s acres)

Food crop production (1,000s Ibs)
Coconuts (number)
Sweet peppers
Sweet potatoes

Sources: ECLAC, 1988; GOSKN, 1989b.


down to 50 acres and expected to drop further
in 1990.

Wage imbalances plus seasonal fac-
tors have also negatively affected small-scale
fishing and domestic agriculture. The cane-
cutting season in St. Kitts is routinely associ-
ated with reduced fishing effort during the pe-
riod when the most commercially lucrative
migratory species (dolphins and tuna) are
abundant. Such labor problems compound
other constraints: in the case of farming, poor
soil (in Nevis), inadequate farm size, land
tenure and conservation p:3ctices, small local

markets and damage from foraging animals;
in the case of fishing, inadequate capitaliza-
tion and storage facilities, outmoded tech-
niques, and depletion of nearshore lobster and
conch beds.

Government efforts underway to ad-
dress these problems include the provision of
long-term leases of Government land for
small farmers, new feeder roads, seasonal ir-
rigation, concessional loans and ser-
vices/inputs, market forecasting and surveil-
lance for specific crops, duty-free importation
of equipment, temporary curbs on foreign








food imports, restrictions on local lob-
ster/conch fishing, aquaculture, and various
research (local animal feed) and extension
(tick eradication) activities.


Since the country contains no known
commercially viable mineral deposits, non-
sugar industrial development has been con-
fined to manufacturing for the local market
and enclave-type processing for export. This
latter refers tc the finishing (textiles) and
assembling (electronics) of imported raw
materials and parts by local labor. Despite
intense international competition, enclave
manufacturing has thus far been a modest but
successful diversification venture. According
to Table 1.4(3), during the past decade the
non-sugar manufacturing share of GDP rose

over 20 percent to an estimated 7.5 percent in
1988. Over the same period, the value of ex-
ports and selected manufacturing employment
rose more than two-thirds. The output of
non-alcoholic beverages and construction re-
lated products like concrete blocks and furni-
ture outpaced enclave production (Table
1.4(3)). Throughout the decade output pat-
terns have been volatile because of demand
fluctuations in both CARICOM and foreign

In Nevis, the industrial sector is very
small. The island's business sector is com-
prised primarily of managers of small
branches of Kittitian firms and the owners of
small tourist establishments. A limited airport
runway and inadequate draft at the port in
Charlestown hinder extensive expansion of
manufacturing in Nevis.

Table 1.4(3). Selected Indicators of manufacturing performance, 1979-1988.

% Change
INDICATOR 1979 1988 1979-88

Manufactures (% of GDP) 6.2 7.5 21.0
Value of manufacturer exports (EC$) 44.3 76.6 72.9
Selected employment1 1,157 1,936 87.3
Selected production
Non-alcoholic beverages
(1,000s gal) 547 843 54.1
Alcoholic beverages (1,0rOs gal) 291 327 12.4
Concrete blocks (1,000s) 1,058 1,8732 77.0
Shoes (1,000s pairs) 49 factories closed
Industrial gases (1,OOUs Ibs) 218 104 -52.3

Notes: 1 Includes garment, shoe, electronics and beverage workers.
2 1987.

Sources: World Bank, 1985 (for 1979 data); GOSKN, 1989b (for 1988 data).

Sustaining future gains in the sector
in St. Kitts-Nevis will depend on how well a
number of constraints are addressed: limited
infrastructure, high transport costs, marketing
problems, inadequate linkages with other local
industries, and the poor "quality, availability,
and [high] cost of labour .. ." (CDB, 1989).
In response, several programs outlined in the
National Development Plan have already been
initiated. To supplement the U.S. AID-
funded Eastern Caribbean Investment Pro-
motion Service, GOSKN is establishing its
own Investment Incentive Corporation with
professional staffing (1) to attract off-island
investment, (2) to better screen serious, bona
fide investors, and (3) to provide "one-stop"
investor servicing. The Federation is also cre-
ating new industrial parks and factory shells
and expanding the skilled labor force through
job training and vocational education to sup-
port a new strategy of targeting higher value
garmert and electronic firms and data pro-

The outlook for small local building-
related manufacturing is promising. The Na-
tional Development Plan projects the GDP
contribution of construction activity to soon
double because of the priority placed on in-
frastructure, utility expansion, and public and
private residential construction. The rate of
new/replacement housing starts !s expected to
double over mid-1980 levels. In addition,
Government is planning direct sponsorship of
a number of indigenous manufacturing enter-
prises in meat processing, footwear, and
honey processing for export.


Tourism has sustained the div;rsifi-
cation effort well, and -- once the impact of
Hurricane Hugo (1989) is behind the country
-- it should continue to outperform all othe-
sectors. Visitors increased only one .t recent
overall in 1989 because of the storm-induced
decline in the fourth quarter following Hugo.
Between 1984-88, however, stay-overs grew at
an annual average rate of 15 percent per year.
Over 40 percent were from the U.S. while 20
percent were from Canada and Europe, and
25 percent (mainly returning SKN workers
and students, came from the Caribbean.

During the same 1984-1988 years, total visitor
expenditure more than doubled, increasing
over 20 percent per year, making SKN one of
the region's growth leaders. Cruise traffic
fluctuated because of shifting routes and the
bankruptcy of one ship firm that formerly ac-
counted for a quarter of SKN cruise passen-
gers (Caribbean Update, 1989). Room capac-
ity also doubled over the four years, and the
value added to GDP by the hotel/restaurant
subsector alone tripled (CTO, 1989).

Presently, the most favorable devel-
opments in the sector include an increasing
share of visitors using hotels (61 percent),
strong increases in long-staying Canadian and
European tourists, and completion of the
Southeast Peninsula access road at the end of
1989. The development of this pristine area is
expected to "augment capacity and enhance
the quality of the tourism product" (GOSKN,
1987c). Construction of two large (250
rooms) hotels is expected to begin soon on the
Peninsula (Caribbean Update, 1990) and to
generate significant new revenues. If these
properties materialize and complement the
large resorts nearing completion at Pinneys
Beach and Fort Charles in Nevis, total room
capacity could double in the next few years.

The long-term success of diversifica-
tion clearly lies with tourism and its potential
linkages with domestic agriculture. The sus-
tainability of tourism depends on whether the
country can continue to distinguish itself from
its Caribbea'i competition. In great part this
will depend upon: (1) whether the planned
large hotel developments in St. Kitts and in
Nevis materialize; (2) whether they result in a
unique high quality, high income, repeat visi-
tor experience; and (3) how they impact the
present balanced mix of North American, Eu-
ropean, and West Indian visitors who
presently enjoy a relatively small-scale hotel
structure and a natural island tourism style
(McEhoy and deAlbuquerque, 1989). The
1990's will be a critical decade in the Federa-
tion'c transition to up-scale international
tourism prominence because several major
infrastructure an' development projects will
be established that will affect the country's
delicate insular environment.


In the area of environmental management, the role of economics traditionally has been
diagnostic, scene-setting, and related to the identification of dollars to pay for expensive in-
frastructure programs. Most of the prescriptive elements of environmental policies are usually
dealt with within natural resource sectors such as agriculture or forestry. But that's now
changing. As the Economist magazine (5 May, 1990) recently noted, "Environmental policies
that take no heed of economics will backfire; but so will economic policies that Ignore the en-
vironment." This statement Is just as valid for Eastern Caribbean countries like St. Kitts-Nevis
as it is elsewhere in the world.

Progressive environmental policies are most likely to achieve their goals In a cost-ef-
fective manner If they use economic mechanisms such as taxes and control of pricing for
non-market goods. Regulations and direct subsidies are demonstrably less effective than
economic tools which control prices to consumers.

It Is Important for governments to eliminate subsidies for the exploitation of scarce nat-
ural resources. Although this is easy to say, it sometimes clashes strongly with fundamental
political issues, such as government-financed housing schemes where a subsidy is used to
support the conversion of prime agricultural land into housing tracts. Another traditional sub-
sidy often as. oclated with negative environmental consequences is the construction of farm-
to-market roads. In contrast, however, taxes on scarce natural resources and energy can
serve the dual goals of revenue generation and ensuring that the prices of such goods more
fully refle( the full costs to society.

Th ;ie are many opportunities for GOSKN to explore the elimination of environmentally-
harmful "subsidies" or the adoption of creative fiscal disincentives to protect the environment.
For example:

Establishing grazing fees to reduce excessive devegetation;

Raising the fee for local sand (or, conversely, reducing the tariff on Imported aggre-
gate) to better regulate and control local sand mining;

Charging higher stumpage fees for lumber and fuelwood extraction from local

Establishing license fees for commercial fishing to reduce depletion of nearshore

Raising water distribution charges and setting user fees where there are none;

Designing tax abatement schemes that Incorporate environmental penalties and re-
wards, e.g., reducing incentives for firms seriously violating pollution control standards or
providing subsidies to firms that create environmental enhancements;

Similarly, providing tax benefits for hoteliers and manufacturers who excel In pur-
chasing local products and Inputs.

It i. important for St. Kitts-Nevis and other Eastern Caribbean governments to explore
additional ways for economics and the environment to work together creatively.

Efforts must be made to guarantee
that the overall speed of tourism development
does not deplete the labor force and under-
mine diversification into agriculture and in-
dustry. Likewise, some examination of wage
imbalances is warranted so that tourism and
con,,.ruction do not continue to attract labor

away from these same sectors. In Nevis, the
unemployment level is very low, and the labor
force often has to be augmented with im-
ported laborers. In the tourism sector, very
few Nevisians are qualified at present to hold
many of tht managerial posts associated with
the industry.


The Southeast Peninsula Road, under construction, as it passes south through the North Friar's Bay
area and rises into the hills of Salt Pond Estate. Friar's Bay, with both Atlantic and Caribbean
beaches, Is likely to be developed early as a major tourism site. Protecting the two salt ponds at
South Friar's Bay on the Caribbean side warrants special attention by development planners.

A major engineering achievement for St. Kitts, the Southeast Peninsula Highway may require special
efforts to eliminate erosion and rock slides on the steep slopes where the road has been cut into hill-
sides as shown above.



2.1.1 Overview


In between the dozens of deep
drainage ghauts which radiate outward in all
directions from the elevated center of St.
Kitts, trapezoidal cane fields gracefully reach
inward and upward toward the thick, deep-
green panoply of tropical trees, vines, ferns
and plants that make up the heavily-forested
core of the island. Dominated by Mt.
Liamuiga (3,792 ft/1,156 m), the elongated
steep-sided ridge consisting of the Northwest,
Central and Southeast Ranges (see Figure
1.2(6)) remain to this day mostly inaccessible
and undeveloped. The irregular very steep
terrain has, historically speaking, had very lit-
tle regular intensive use, contrasting dramati-
cally with three hundred years of intensive
agricultural use of adjacent surrounding
slopes, used traditionally for sugar cane.

However, throughout the colonial era
and since independence, the forested core and
especially its peripheral edge, have provided
downslope communities with a wide variety of
useful goods and services such as building
materials, fuelwood, natural medicines, wild
fruits, and a habitat for game species and
other wildlife. By far, however, the most im-

portant service provided by the forest is as a
reliable source of domestic water for the en-
tire island. In a most orderly sequence, the
forest catches the rainfall, stores the water, ar-
ranges for its distribution islandwide and re-
leases it over time at various locations.


According to Mills (1988), it is gener-
ally accepted that about 37 percent of the land
area of St. Kitts is covered by forest vegetation
(16,000 acres). A land use break-down of the
island can be found in Table 2.1(1). Addi-
tionally, the relationship between maximum
elevation and percent of total area forested in
St. Kitts, in comparison to other islands in the
Eastern Caribbean, is displayed in Figure

Nearly all of the forested areas, ex-
cept for the Southeast Peninsula, are owned
by the Government. The St. Kitts for-
est/woodland cover of 6,500 ha can be classi-
fied as:

- Rain and Cloud Forest

- Moist Forest

- Dry forest

2,300 ha

2,100 ha

2,100 ha.

Table 2.1(1). Land use in St. Kitts.

Land Use Type Acres Percent

Agriculture 24,420 56.1
Forest 16,000 36.8
Urban 2,600 6.0
Other Use 500 1.1

Source: McKenzie (1987c).



St. Kitts

St. Lucil


/ St. Vincent
* St. Kitts




10 20
Percent of Total

30 40
Area Forested

Figure 2.1 (1). Relationship between maximum elevation and percent total area
forested In St. Kitts, In comparison to other Eastern Caribbean Is-
lands (source: Lugo, 1986). This figure Is based on Lugo's Table 1
which used an Incorrect acreage figure of 16.7% for St. Kitts. The
correct figure Is 37% (Mills, 1988). The above figure shows both
the former (incorrect) plot for St. Kitts and the corrected position.

The species composition of the dif-
ferent types of forest and woodland is still very
much like that described by Beard (1949) in
his study of West Indian vegetation and as
summarized in Section 1.2.4 of the Profile
(see also Tables 2.1(2-6)). There is, however,
no recent forest resource assessment of St.
Kitts (or Nevis either). At least six different
consulting reports and studies completed over

the last decade have each suggested that a
forest inventory should be undertaken and be
used to develop an improved management
strategy for the resource. See, for example,
Skerritt and Evelyn (1982), CDB (1983),
UNDP/FAO (1984), McKenzie (1987a and
1987b), and Chalmers (1990).

1500 -





gin I.
. S.)

-/ Vi r

' Neth. Ant.
* Barbados


Table 2.1(2). Common forest trees of St. Kitts-Nevis: rain forest group.

Local Name

Mountain Cabbage
Yellow Bay Sweetwood
Guana Sweetwood
Wild Plum [Tom Tar]
Pigeon Berry
Wild Coffee
Black mahoe [Black Bark]
Bull Tongue [Honeyberry]
White Fig [Wild Fig]
[Pan Mango]
[Choky Apple]
[Yellow Sandars]
[Wild Pepper]
[Milky Tree]
[Spanish Ash]
[Tree Fern]
[Blue Box]

Scientific Name

Dacryodes excelsa
Euterpe globosa
Bellschmledea pendula
Aniba bracteata
Slmarouba amara
Hirtella triandra
Sloanea truncata
Ormosia monosperma
Faramea occldentalls
Guatterla carlbaea
Saplum carlbacum
Vltex divarlcata
Marl/a racemosa
Guazuma ulmlfolla
Flcus americana
Drypetes piriformis
Podocarpus corlaceus
Micropholls chrysophylloides
Pouteria multiflora
Buchenavia capital
Hedyosmum arborescens
Cecropla peltata
Sapium carlbeaum
Coccoloba diversifolia
Inga laurina
Cyathea arborea
Ilex sideroxyloldes
Symplocos martinicensis

(1) Items not In brackets reported for St. Kitts In Skerritt and Evelyn, 1982 (based on
Beard, 1949).
(2) Items in brackets additionally reported for Nevis (R. Young, CEP Project Team).
N.B. Some Items listed may be present on both Islands.


Cater (1944) and Beard (1949) both
remarked on the fact that there was evidence
of continuing and progressive abandonment of
agricultural land on previously cleared areas
in the upper, steeper slopes of the island as
cane production was slowly consolidated on
better sites. More recent mechanization and

the need to focus production on the most pro-
ductive land have resulted in further abandon-
ment. Some areas have reverted to secondary
forest or have been utilized for grazing (Mills,
1988). Others are used for charcoal, princi-
pally because of their accessibility via aban-
doned but still passable trails used to retrieve
the finished, bagged charcoal. As much as
3,500 acres are estimated by one OAS consu!-
tant to be pioneer forest which has resulted

Table 2.1(3). Common forest trees of St. Kitts-Nevis: elfin woodland.

Local Name

Wild Pepper

Mountain Cabbage Palm
Strangler Fig
Blue Box

Scientific Name

Frezlera undulata
Charlanthus cocclneus
DIdymopanax attenuatum
Hedyosmumrn aborescens
Podocarpus corlacet s
Welnmanlala pinnala
Rapanea ferruglnea
Euterpe globosa
Clusla rosea
Ilex sideroxyloldes
Phoebe sp.

(1) hems not In brackets reported for St. Kitta In Skoiritt and Evelyn, 1982 (based on
Beard, 1949).
(2) Items In brackets additionally reported for Nevis (R. Young, CEP Project Team).
N.B. Some items listed may be present on both Islands.

from abandonment of agricultural land (Prins,
1987). Labor shortages in the sugar industry
(mostly of cane cutters at harvest time) and
the concomitant shift to mechanized harvest-
ing have accelerated this process of acreage
reduction of land in cane. The mechanical
harvesters simply cannot function efficiently --
sometimes not at all -- on the upper, steeper
slopes where the fields also tend to be smaller
and more irregular in shape. As a result the
upland forested areas of St. Kitts (and Nevis
too, see below) are no longer declining but
appear to be increasing through secondary

It is, however, legitimate to inquire
about the capacity of the new growth areas to
provide certain environmental "services".
Some experts (for example, Arendt, 1985)
have cautioned against the assumption that
pioneer scrub forest is good for wildlife,
making up for other lost habitat acreage.
Unfortunately, some species are very selec-
tive, adapted to one or another kind of more
mature forest food supplies of insects, seeds,
and berries. Other skeptical ecologists warn
against assuming the renewed scrub forest

zones will provide watershed soil stabilization
and renewal (when the soils have been badly
damaged by prior misuse). On the positive
side, there is some agreement about the role
of scrub forest in improved water infiltration
and also regarding its buffer zone function for
other habitats needing protection. This is es-
pecially the case with surviving small areas of
rain forest or any specific habitat unique
enough to draw attention to itself, thereby
inviting an excess of human visitors and im-
pacts, however inadvertent.


Traditionally, the Government of St.
Kitts-Nevis has had a relatively limited role in
the management of forested areas. They fell
principally within the purview of the sugar
estates, which looked after them because they
were the sole source of each estate's water
supply. Not only was responsibility decen-
tralized but so was concern; and, as a result,
the estate management format tended to be a
surrogate for an informal watershed manage-
ment process. Management and protection of

Table 2.1(4). Common forest trees of St. Kitts-Nevis: dry evergreen forest.

Local Name

White Cedar
[White Cedar]
Black Mast
Prickle, yellow
Prickle, white
Monkey goblet
[Strangler Fig]
Spanish Ash
Gum Tree
Wild Plum
Wild Grape
Red Cedar
Bitter Ash

Scientific Name

Tabebula pallida ?
Tabebula heterophylla ?
Dlospyros ebenaster
PIsonla fragrans
Daphnopsis carlbaea
Lnuraceae spp.
Aniba bracteata
Fagara martlnicensis
Fagara monophylla
Clusla rosea
Clusla rosea
Myrtaceae spp.
Inga laurlna
Bursera simaruba
Calophyllum antlilamim
Simarouba amara
Coccolobis diverslfolla
Coccoloba diversifolla
Hymenaea courbarll
Cedrela mexicana
Lonchocarpus latifollus
PIcrasma antlllane
Guazuma ulmfolla
Hirtella trlandra

(1) Items not In brackets reported for St. Kitts In Skerritt and Evelyn, 1982 (based on
Beard, 1949).
(2) Items In brackets additionally reported for Nevis (R. Young, CEP Project Team).
N.B. Some Items listed may be present on both islands .

upland forests were activities that commanded
some level of investment of money and effort
by owners and some level of planning, work
and supervision by resident estate managers.
Therefore, for a long time, it appeared that
forests were self-managing resources and re-
quired nothing from Government. But times
changed, and the market place intervened in
the form of pressures which encouraged each
estate to expand cane production through in-
ternal efficiencies and by opening up new cane

production areas. There was no place to go
but upLiill.

The process of clearing forested
upper-level estate land for cane culture, for
"new" provision grounds or for fuelwood har-
vesting or charcoal production apparently
reached its zenith about the end of the nine-
teenth century. After a not inconsiderable
public outcry, mostly based on concern for the
effects of excessive deforestation on the water
supply and ghaut erosion from increased run-

Table 2.1 (5). Common forest trees of St. Kitts-Nevis: palm brake group.

Local Name

Bull Tongue
Blue Box [White Birch ?]
Tree Fern or Durmandraw
[Mountain Cabbage Palm]

Scientific Name

Marila racemorsa
HIrtella triandra
Ilex slderoxyloldes
Dacryodes excelsa
Sloanea spp.
Bellschmiedea pendula
Saplum caribaeum
Cyathea arborea
Euterpe globosa

(1) items not in brackets reported for St. KItts In Skerritt and Evoyn, 1982 (based on
Beard, 1949).
(2) items in brackets additionally reported for Nevis (R. Young, CEP Project Team).
N.B. Some items listed may be present on both islands.

off and downslope flooding, a formal strategy
was initiated by estate managers and devel-
oped by Government to control tree cutting
and limit shifting cultivation.

In 1904 this took the form of a new
Forest Ordinance, the first for St. Kitts-Nevis
and the first for the Caribbean. A Forestry
Board composed of planters with lands ex-
tending into the forested mountains was es-
tablished to control cutting of vegetation.
Beard (1949) observed during his assessment
of forests in the 1940's, "The effect of this or-
dinance, wh;ch has been consistently well en-
forced, has been to create a large central
block of forest which is now mostly well-ad-
vanced second growth."

The record shows estate owners and
managers working cooperatively with the
Board to implement the regulations and re-
forest degraded areas. But, with the gradual
decline in and dissolution of the estate system
culminating in the nationalization of estate
lands, a void slowly developed concerning for-
est protection and management.

Srerritt and Evelyn (1982) contrast
the functional operation of the Forest Board

before and after Government acquisition of
the sugar estates in 1974. They concluded the
Government take-over resulted in "a sudden
and rapid deterioration in active management
of the forests by the Forestry Board."

After 1974, the Board failed to meet,
no summonses were served to illegal cutters,
and the issuance of charcoal permits was left
to forest guards (there is no record of any li-
cences being issued even though there was
considerable evidence of coal-burning)
(Skerritt and Evelyn, 1982). In 1976, the
Board was abolished and its responsibilities
shifted to the Chief Agricultural Officer
(Lausche, 1986). This was not a real solution.

Ten years later, under the, stimulus of
developing a new national environmental
strategy to deal with the anticipated impacts
of development on the Southeast Peninsula,
the Government of St. Kitts-Nevis proceeded
to design a new national approach to resource
management in the state. The resulting prod-
uct -- the National Conservation and Envi-
ronmental Protection Act (1987) -- is a
broadly-based piece of legislation designed to
protect, preserve and administer a wide range
of natural resources. The overall implications

Table 2.1(6). Common forest trees of St. Kitts-Nevis: dry scrub woodland.

Local Name

Gum Tree
White Cedar

Scientific Name

Bursera simaruba
PIsonia fragrans
Lonchocarpus ltlifollus
Tabebula pallida
Plumeria alba
flandia mrtis
Croton havenss
Capparis flexuosa
Acacia sp.
Prosopis chllensis
Coccolobis puhescens
Triphasla trifolla
Nectandra membranacea

Sources: Skerritt and Evelyn, 1982 (based on Beard, 1949) and R. Young, CEP Project Tuam.
N.B. Some items listed may not be present on both Islands.

and detail of the full scope of this comprehen-
sive act are reviewed in Section 5 on Parks
and Protected Areas and Section 8 on the In-
stitutional Framework. However, the princi-
pal parts of the law as it relates to forestry can
be outlined as follows:

Establishment of Protected Areas.
Lands, including private property,
can be set aside for a variety of
purposes, including national
parks, nature reserves, botanic
gardens, and historic and scenic
areas, and can include marine as
well as terrestrial environments.

Administration of Protected
Areas. The Minister for Devel-
opment, or an appointee, is re-
sponsible for management, ad-
ministration, restoration and con-

A National Conservation Com-
mission is to be formed under the
Act, and management plans are to
be prepared for protected areas.

Forestry, Soil and Water Conser-
vation. Timber is not to be cut or
felled without permit; forest re-
serves are to be established, and
grazing is to be prohibited within

Regulations are to be prepared
for the utilization of forest re-
sources, so as to maximize pro-
duct'. ty.

Reforestation is to be promoted,
as is timber stand improvement,
forest protection, f )rest manage-
ment, and research.

Charcoal production is to be reg-
vlated, and export of charcoal

Procedures and exemptions for
cutting and felling trees are to be

Soil conservation with special ref-
erence to protection of ghauts is
identified as a priority, and man-
agement and protection measures
are to be enforced.

Watershed conservation is to be
employed to insure an uninter-
rupted supply of water for do-
mestic, agricultural, and industrial

The absence of regulations will un-
doubtedly prevent the immediate implemen-
tation of this extraordinarily comprehensive
piece of environmental legislation, and these
in turn await guidance from the newly-
established Conservation Commission which
just began deliberations in 1990. The
Commission, however, will not suffer for lack
of an agendL in the forestry sector as there
have been several useful summaries circulated
within the state in the past decade. These in-

(1) A thoughtful, independent as-
sessment by Skerritt and Evelyn was prepared
in 1982 as a formal paper for presentation to
the Caribbean Conservation Association, then
having its annual general meeting in Nevis.
Key concerns are outlined in a summary sec-
tion entitled "The Need For Management".

(2) In 1983, the Caribbean Devel-
opment Bank (CDB), with the assistance of
the Deutsche Forstinventur Service GmbH
(DFS), undertook a regional forestry sector
study which included St. Kitts. These findings
identified environmental concerns comparable
to those suggested by Skerritt and Evelyn the
year before. These were summarized as:

An urgent need to identify land
which, because of slope, location,
infertility, or other reasons,
should be permanently retained
under tree cover;

A lack of a formally approved for-
est policy resulting in significant
gaps such as controls on illegal

A forest administration lacking a
sufficient number of adequately-
trained professionals and ill-
equipped to perform the range of
duties required;

Exploitation of forests for fuel-
wood, fence posts and timber
which was damaging public land;
little incentive for private land
owners to improve their forested

The existence of large areas of
former agricultural land lying id!,
or going to bush;

A lack of trained personnel for
reforestation, which made any
proposed plantation forestry pro-
gram a risky undertaking;

A completely uncontrolled and
primitive system of charcoal pro-

The CDB/DFS report also made
note of the existence on paper of Forest Re-
serves, first created in 1904 and identified as
forest areas above an elevation of 1,500 feet
(Skerritt and Evelyn, 1982). The boundaries
of the Forest Resewes are not surveyed or
marked on the ground, and the CDB/DFS
study recommended clear demarcation of the

Other studies of the forestry sector
and its needs occurring at about the same
time include the OAS study of the Forestry
Division (Prins, 1987) and a very recent St.
Kitts component to the FAO Tropical
Forestry Action Plan (TFAP) by Chalmers


Early seventeenth century visitors to
Nevis like Captain John Smith and Sir Henry
Bolt remarked that forests and "woods" ex-
tended all the way to the sea in almost all
parts of the island. But by 1707, Hans Sloane
reported that Nevis had cleared its forests al-

most to the top of the central mountain, pre-
sumably to provide fuel for the sugar cane in-
dustry and to make land av.Jable for orchards
and grazing. A bit of exaggeration is sus-
pected in both accounts, but old maps of the
island clearly indicate an upper island road at
about the one thousand foot contour, portions
of which still exist as trails today.

As large estates began to collapse in
the late nineteenth century and population
density decreased, abandoned land in Nevis
started to revert to a wild state. This natural
forest regeneration continues in some places,
now a hundred years old, and almost half the
total land area of the island is covered with
forest or woodland, much of it owned by the

Production forestry has never been a
prominent industry in Nevis. At one time,
cedar shingles were produced, and in the
1940's Nevis supplied St. Kitts with large
amounts of charcoal. Today, activities are
limited to periodic charcoal burning (the
charcoal production that does occur employs
the pit method), some harvesting of bamboo
and screwpine for furniture and crafts, and the
felling of small trees for use in fish traps,
fencing, and construction poles. Remaining
forest areas are not suitable for saw timber
production due to extreme slopes, erosion
hazard, slow growth rates and small tree di-

Fruit (banana, mango, genip, papaya,
breadfruit) is harvested from naturally regen-
erated trees as well as domestically propa-
gated ones. Cacao and Castilloa rubber trees
were planted in the early twentieth century as
an economic venture but were not viable.
There are currently no agroforestry or artifi-
cial reforestation projects in Nevis. Many
lands that were formerly cleared for agricul-
tural production are now abandoned and are
naturally reverting back to wild forest.

Watershed management in Nevis has
been viewed as applying primarily to Nevis
Peak, the source of the island's potable sur-
face water (see also Section 2.2 of the Profile).
This, of course, involves a slightly specialized,
Nevisian adaptation or use of the watershr'.
concept to cover the entire cluster of ur r

watersheds around the peak as a management
zone instead of the more customary true
"watershed" associated with a single water-
course, whether a normally dry ghaut or a
flowing stream. There is a precedent for this
perspective. The Forestry Ordinance of 1904
declared all forested lands generally above
1,000 feet in elevation crown lands, largely out
of recognition of the vital role they play in
water conservation. As a consequence, the
practice of "forestry" in Nevis has in fact con-
sisted almost exclusively of watershed tec-
tion measures. The now-disett,. l ed
Forestry Board was required to have mag
its members one representative frok '.e
Agricultural Department and one r. e.-
sentative from the Water Department, and ;
foresters were primarily responsible for c.
during that no activities threatened the water
conservation function of forested areas.

2.1.2 Problems ond Issues



Although there is no clear definition
of acreage involved, there appears to be b--
tween 2,500 and 3,500 acres of land which
were previously in sugar cane production.
Farquharson (1986) in his study of farming
models for agricultural diversification reports
about 3,000 acres of former cane land avail-
able for alternative agriculW,-rz? activities, but
since much of this land never should have
been cleared for agriculture in the first place,
some care should be exercised to exclude non-
suitable land from possible poduction-ori-
ented farm or agro-farm land re-distribution
or re-settlement programs. Prins (1987) ar-
gues that a good portion of the approximately
5,000 acres currently in use for cash vegetable
crop production, hillside provi-ion grounds,
grazing laLd, or otherwise fallow areas are, in
fact, former cane-crop lands. One resource
manager in St. Kitts (pers. commun., H. Mills,
Forest Officer, 1990) suggests a smaller
acreage, i.e., perhaps 2,500 acres of land, is in

a condition suitable for alternative uses. In
any event, specific guidelines for de-selection
and conversion to some type of land-banking,
marginal land reserve or land/soil restoration
program need to be developed.

Farquharson (1986) proposes a
number of farming models for upper slope
areas. These are principally classified as small
cash crop vegetable production, fruit crop and
livestock farming. The importance of
protecting and utilizing these lauds in a forest
plantation management program is
emphasized by recent activities undertaken as
part of the OAS Natural Resource
Management Planning Project for St. Kitts.
The identification, propagation and
outplanting of suitable forest species in multi-
purpose plantations was a major focus of
project activities. The establishment of
demonstration plantations in conjunction with
soil conservation activities were planned
outputs, although plantations proposed at soil
conservation project sites such as Sir Gillies
Ghaut and Lavington's Estate were not
established. This kind of work should
continue on a greatly expanded scale.

The importance of the natural forest
for watershed protection is paramount. Like-
wise, the importance of retaining both aban-
doned cane lands which are in a fallow status
and forests which contain early successional
species to control and maintain water flow
needs to be emphasized, and appropriate
management practices need to be imple-
mented. These lands have potential for pro-
ductive forest plantations for a variety of wood
products in local demand. Research should
be focused on identifying silvicultural tech-
niques capable of establishing useful species
at exposed sites. Agroforestry has a well de-
fined role to play on upper sites, where farm-
ers' needs and requirements for environmen-
tal protection can be merged.


Realizing the potential threat to the
unique environment of the Southeast Penin-
sula (SEP), and in response to an antecedent
full-scale environmental assessment report

(Towle, et al., 1986a), the Southeast Peninsula
Development and Conservation Board orga-
nized preparation of sectorial management
plans for the Peninsula's terrestrial and ma-
rine environment. The Forestry Resources
Management Plan (Buchter, 1989) includes
identification and description of each unique
vegetatioin type and its contribution to ihe
overall environment of the Peninsula. Barrier
dune, littoral forest, sea blast areas, a xero-
phytic association, tropical dry forest, and the
guinea grass type are represented.

Of particular concern on the Penin-
sula is the fire hazard that occurs during the
dry season in guinea grass, an introduced veg-
etation type. Annual burning in these areas
maintains the grass cover and prevents regen-
eration if more complex and stable natural
vegetation. The guinea grass, which was
originally introduced as cattle forage, is ex-
panding in area annually as a result of pro-
gressive burning into forested areas.

The Forestry Resources Management
Plan outlines the critical relationship between
vegetation and erosion en the Peninsula. Dis-
ruption to the natural vegetative cover in this
area of low rainfall requires many years for
full recovery. The impact of poorly-planned
construction on the natural cover will be es-
sentially permanent, and siltation resulting
from increased run-off from construction sites
could adversely affect marine resources.

Reserve status is therefore recom-
mended in some special treatment areas on
the Peninsula. These include ghauts, espe-
cially St. Anthony's Peak ghaut, areas of sea-
blast vegetation, barrier dunes, and the littoral
forest areas. Negotiation for preservation of
these areas with SEP land owners is recom-
mended and justified on the basis of resource
conservation as well as aesthetic appeal.

As plans for major development
projects are proposed for the Peninsula, em-
phasis should be placed on a thorough review
and implementation (f the development
pgidelines contained within the SEP Forestry
Resources Management Plan. Recommenda-
tions are specified for protection of trees and
sbh'rbs, the integrity of the ghauts, roadway
design criteria to protect vegetation, fire con-

trol, landscaping, and the impact of animals.
The need to pay particular attention to appro-
priate landscaping of buildings and roadways
is emphasized by Buchter (1989) and other
planners (Towle, et al., 1986a).


The wetland resources of St. Kitts
were identified by Henry Mills (GOSKN
Forestry Officer) in his paper prepared for the
Fifth Caribbean Foresters Meeting in
Trinidad in 1990. Wetlands are also consid-
ered within the scope of the FAO Tropical
Forest Action Plan (TFAP). A preliminary
list of TFAP issues in St. Kitts (Chalmers,
1990) identifies Greatheeds Fond, located !ess
than three mi!es frLm Basseterre, as a signifi-
cant wetland threatened by pollution from the
adjoining refuse dump. On the basis of a
preparatory mission undertaken in advance of
a more detailed study of tropical forest con-
cerns, Chalmers suggests, 'This [Greatheeds
Pond] has excellent potential for development
as a wildlife sanctuary .' Chalmers rec-
ommends that an assessment should be made
rapidly to determine other mangrove areas in
the Federation requiring protection.


The impo stance of trees, shrubs and
other vegetation in urban areas cannot be
overemphasized. The benefits of these plants
go beyond their obvious aesthetic value and
include serving as noise barriers, removing
air-borne pollutants and adding oxygen to the
environment, and providing shade and wildlife
habitat. The need for these be .".s is im-
portant in St. Kitts-Nevis as urban develop-
ment continues and as additional facilities for
tourist accommod't,:'on are built. Well-
planned in mdscaping and rehabilitation of nat-
ural vegetation on development sites should
be required as part of the development per-
mitting process. Planting new trees and car-
ing for existing trees should also be addressed
in older neighborhoods.

An r.oan forestry initiative would
help to focus attention on the loss of trees and
shrubs in the urbanized or more developed

environments of the country. Improvements
to the urban forest can include street tree
planting, park and cemetery planting, and
protection of natural areas and should involve
both private and public property. Initiating an
urban forestry program, with perhaps an in-
ventory assessment, planting schemes, and
other improvements (including support for
establishment of a new botanical garden), will
help to raise public awareness and generate
interest in a comprehensive urban forestry
effort. Education programs on the benefits of
trees and shrubs and on the need to focus at-
tention on organizing the natural environment
through landscape planning and landscape ar-
chitecture can be accomplished with the as-
sistance of local media and in conjunction
with the Ministry of Education for programs
focusing on school grounds. Guidelines for
landscapingg aimed at developers of individual
c," multi-unit housing p-ojects could be pre-
pared, and a list of recommended plant mate-
rial and sources could be compiled with help
from local experts.

A successful urban forestry program
will require a cooperative effort by Govern-
ment and the privatee sector. In this regard,
the pioneering efforts of the Basseterre Beau-
tification Committee and other organizations
and clubs need to be recognized.


Protecting the land from the effects
of destructive erosive forces and protecting
the supply of freshwater are the primary func-
tions of the natural forest. In order to insure
that these benefits continue uninterrupted, the
status of forest reserves should be formalized,
and measures should be set in place to im-
prove their management.

The composition, condition, area,
and resources of the upland forest are poorly
defined. The extent to which these areas are
presently used, by whom, ad for what pur-
poses has not been evaluated or documented
on a consistent basis. The extent to which the
forest supplies firewood and wood for char-
coal is essentially unknown. A long-term
management plan for the forest reserves is
needed, which would include defining areas

where different uses can occur and areas
where protection forest is to be emphasized.

The boundaries of the forest reserves
need to be established. Survey of boundary
lines and demarcation in the field should pro-
ceed following a forest inventory and es-
tablishment of the legal framework to ensure
control and regulation of the land. The Na-
tional Conservation and Environment Protec-
tion Act (1987) would appear to be an appro-
priate legislative vehicle for insuring proper
protection and management of forest pre-


Several tour operators and guides use
the natural forest for nature excursions, and
recreational trips into the forest have become
popular with island visitors. The impact of in-
creasing numbers of people and the vulnera-
bility of locations visited on a regular basis
need to be assessed. In addition to formal-
izing routes frequently used, further develop-
ment in the eco-tourism sector might include
rehabilitation and improvements to the cross-
island trail. This historic trail is an old road
connecting the villages of Old Road and
Molineux, via Phillips Level. Development of
facilities such as interpretive signs, side paths
to significant natural features, and resting sta-
tions and shelters are trail amenities which
could be of interest to local residents and
tourists alike. Additionally, such a trail has
potential as a focus for a continuing environ-
mental education program suitable for a
broad cross section of the resident and non-
resident populations.


It has been more than 50 years since
Beard's assessment of the natural forest
(Beard, 1949). At Wingfield and Mansion
Estates, Beard established one acre quadrats
which were inventoried in some detail as to
species composition and stocking (see Section
1.2.4 of the CEP). There is no evidence of
other more extensive or detailed examinations
of the forest resource since Beard's work.
Detailed knowledge is of prime importance in

view of the susceptibility of the resource to
change, e.g., storm dam, 3e. Instituting a
method of monitoring change which results
from natural occurrences such as hurricanes
and the effects of human disturbances needs
to be addressed. As a first step, the forest re-
source should be inventoried, to include map-
ping the forest by type, noting slope percent,
exposure to the frequent path of major
storms, and a variety of other topographic
details. Forest composition, volume of tim-
ber-producing species, forest products, age
class, access, and other features of the forest
should also be collected in a field cruise based
on random sample points distributed over the
forested portion of the island. Analysis of
field data would provide essential information
for the preparation of a full forest manage-
ment plan and clear designation of forest re-
serves. Intensity of proposed forest use could
be identified by management unit and might
include areas suitable for multi-purpose use,
e.g., timber production, and areas which will
not sustain major human impact.


The major problem with forestry on
Nevis is the absence of an overall forest man-
agement and protection program. Legislation
has been in place for some time to regulate
certain activities and to protect lands above
1,000 feet, but it has not been actively en-
forced. There are ho trained foresters on
Nevis as vacant positions 'vere never filled
when the last forest guards died in the 1970's,
and a foi estry program has never been devel-
oped. Forested crown lands are under the ju-
risdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture, but
the Department is so understaffed at present
that no time can be devoted to forestry. The
Forestry Board in Nevis, as in St. Kitts, be-
came defunct in the late 1970's, and although
a Forestry Division was established under the
Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and
Development in St. FJtts in 1987, Nevis does
not have an active forestry unit.

An obstacle to any forestry program
is the paucity of information about Nevis' for-
est resources. Very little study has been done
on the vegetation in recent years, and Beard's

1949 descriptions are in need of updating in
Nevis as well as St. Kitts. A new study of the
island's vegetative zones could serve as a
guide for future development programs and
provide the necessary baseline data for any
forestry program.

The upper elevation forests on Nevis
are largely intact, protected from agricultural
encroachment by their steep slopes and mon-
key populations, but the lower elevation areas
are subject to overgrazing and erosion. At the
height of charcoal production in the 1940's,
the Leeward side of the island between 700
and 1,200 feet was heavily exploited.
(Charcoal was exported from Nevis because
regulations against the felling of timber were
stricter on St. Kitts.) Charcoal production
regulated by the issuing of permits is called
for under the Nevis Forestry Regulatiors of
1940, but this law is not enforced, making it
impossible to estimate the amount of wood
felled for this purpose. The 1980 population
census (CARICOM/ECLAC, 1985) indicated
that 57 percent of the population used char-
coal or wood for cooking fuel. Given the in-
crease in gas stoves on Nevis in the last ten
years, it can be assumed that this percentage
has Cropped substantially.

One threat to the higher elevation
areas is not agricultural encroachment as is
common in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and
Grenada but rather residential encroachment.
Cooler breezes and spectacular vistas attract
mainly non-Nevisians to these areas to build
homes. As beachfront property becomes lim-
ited, more developments such as the one
planned for Pin.,eys Estate -- which utilize a
small length of beach but extend a much
greater distance back up the flanks of Nevis
Peak (in the case of the Pinneys development
right up to 1,000 feet) -- may be proposed.

The Agricultural Department's lack
of oversight concerning forest resources can
lead to several proublms. Unmonitored, in-
troduced exotic species can establish domi-
nance over the island's natural vegetation and
in some instances cause the extinction of vul-
nerable native species. Introduced species
that have already become pests include Mexi-
can Creeper (Antigonon leptopus), Acacia
(Acacia sp.) and Logwood (Haematoxylon

campechianum). As more hotel resort com-
plexes are built, non-native species may be
brought in for landscaping. There have been
no reforestation or agroforestry projects in
Nevis, and little research on the tree species
that would be most suitable for managed
fence post or charcoal production, or any
other use, has been carried out.

Years of lax enforcement of the
Forestry Regulations have caused the Govern-
ment to lose some control over the indis-
criminate felling of timber. In a recent inci-
dent, a few mahogany trees near the
Charlestown Secondary School were cut for
furniture production before the teachers could
alert the Ministry of Agriculture.


Problems associated with watershed
management in Nevis are closely tied to those
related to the management of forest re-
sources. Under the Watercourses and Wa-
terworks Act of 1956 and Regulations of 1973,
the Government has the authority to prohibit
cultivation and livestock grazing within thirty
feet of a watercourse but is given no specific
guidance on enforcement procedures for of-
fences. In addition, the penalties for violation
are too low to be a practical deterrent
(Lausche, 1986). An added complication in
watershed management is the imprecise dis-
tribution of oversight between two Govern-
ment agencies, the Water Department and the
Agricultural Department. It is unclear exactly
which responsibilities fall to each Department.
Legislation linking forest, soil and water con-
servation and erosion mitigation, which would
be an effective way to integrate the watershed
management activities of the two Depart-
ments, does not e dst.


As indicated in Section 2.1 above, the
National Conservation and Environmcut
Protection Act (NCEPA) of 1987 has a dis-
tinct Forestry, Soil and Water Conservation
section which authorizes the establishment of
forest management schemes including the

designation of forest reserves, the prohibition
of livestock grazing in certain areas, the pro-
motion of reforestation, timber stand im-
provement, multiple use forests and forest re-
search. In consultation with the Conservation
Commission, the Minister is to formulate reg-
ulations for soil conservation and to work with
the Water Board to develop water resources
to prevent and reduce soil erosion. The effect
of these policies remains to be seen as no reg-
ulations have been developed to date. Prior
to enactment of the NCEPA, Nevis had
drafted a Land Development Ordinance
(1984) which was designed to reduce or pre-
vent soil erosion, develop forest reserves and
protect ghauts and other water supplies, but it
was never institutionalized. Modifications to
this draft Ordinance might provide a step in
the direction of the needed NCEPA regula-
tions for the island of Nevis.

The Nevis Island Administration
(NIA) has expressed interest in conferring
special status on some forested areas in Nevis.
The NCEPA ouilint s the procedure for set-
ting aside such protected areas, and the pro-
posed zoning map for Nevis identifies Ncvis
Peak, Butlers Mountain Round Hill, Hurri-
cane Hill and Saddle Hili as "prospective" na-
tional parks.

2.1.3 Policy Recom.,iendations

For perhaps four hundred years the
Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, 'n its vari-
ous jurisdictional and administrative forms,
has been more or les;' preoccupied with three
sequential tasks:

First, the forest from the
best, most accessible land to make
room for piivately-owned agricultural
estates growing sugar cane to produce
sugar for export.

Second, encouraging more forest
clearing (of steeper lands) to enable
the expansion of cane acreage and
sugar production by the estates and
their owucrs.

Third, once markets, prices and
estate management became marginal
after World War Two and near col-
lapse by the 1970's, taking responsibil-
ity for continuing the cane-based agri-
culture and the sugar-based industry,
assuming full management control of
the estates and the entire production
system -- an enormous and formidable
undertaking for a small Government in
a small country.

What is noteworthy now, and in ret-
rospect, is that during the first three centuries
and in carrying out the first two tasks,
"forests," as such, were generally seen either
as an obstruction and a nuisance or as a
source of fuelwood, a by-product of land-
clearing activities. If anything, they were
viewed with some hostility because it was to
the forest that runaway slaves retreated.
When, later, slavery was abolished and all
potential cane land had been cleared for culti-
vation, attitudes towards the forest softened or
at least became more neutral.

By the time of the third task -- i.e.,
Government assumption of management
responsibilities for the sugar industry in all its
complexity, sugar estates included -- forests
were simply not perceived as important. They
were seen only as peripheral and mostly irrel-
evant to the task at hand -- conceptually dis-
tant from the real world of unemployment,
declining sugar prices, estate management
problems, and the business of learning how to
run a Government, since national indepen-
dence came along not long after. All of this
leads to several conclusions which should in-
form any attempt to shape forestry-focused
action recommendations.

Firstly, forests have not, as a matter
of public policy or public concern, ever figured
largely in the history or development planning
of St. Kitts and Nevis. Over the years, forest
re sources have generally been taken for
granted -- because they were isolated, distant,
reliable producers of water, home for wildlife,
never demanding much from the public
treasury for repair or management. The
exception to this situation was passage of the
innovative Forest Ordinance in 1904.

However, times have changed; and
the drive for expanded diversification in
agriculture, as well as in employment, Gov-
ernment revenues and business opportunities,
should lead to a serious reassessment of the
unrealized potential of the country's approxi-
mately 25,000 acres of forest. Perhaps the
time has come, after two decades of consul-
tants, one after another suggesting the need
for a forestry policy, to redefine and expand
the role of the forests within the country's
larger national development planning strategy.

At the very least, there is some evi-
dence that the casualness of the past regard-
ing the forest resources of St. Kitts aad Nevis
should, at least fairly soon, become a thing of
the past. The patterns of risk to all living, re-
newable resources like a forest are changing --
e.g., new biocides, expanded harvesting of
wood and water, threats from settlements and
even the risk of lost opportunities -- and each
suggests the need to periodically assess prior-
ities. There is, admittedly, no crisis of the for-
est. But the time for good planning and
precautionary action is here. Agenda items
for consideration follow.


An updated forest resource inventory
and assessment should be launched as soon as
possible and should include, among other
tasks, an identification of reforestation areas,
fuelwood plantation sites, potential wildlife re-
serves or protected areas, tourist amenities,
problem watersheds, training sites, and po-
tential recreation sites (e.g., campgrounds).


Following the development of regu-
ltions by the Conservation Commission pur-
suant to the NCEPA (or as ad interim policies
until such guidelines are available), a compre-
hensive forest resources policy and plan needs
to be prepared, with associated regulations
covering production forestry, agro-forestry,
social forestry, urban forestry, wildlife habitat,
watersheds, forest reserves, and fuelwood
production and other plantation development
on forested lands. Additionally, the forestry

policy and plan should probably lay out guide-
lines for the restoration/recovery of aban-
doned cane lands and for erosion control and
mitigation. The idea of a special unit within
the Forestry Division for gbaut forestry may
warrant review.


As a facet of the larger national agri-
cultural diversification strategy, sub-elements
should focus on expanded and accelerated
implementation of a program of agro-forestry.
Attention needs to be given to such issues as:
longer term land leases, monkey control, tick
control, grazing control, institutional support
systems, fence post pressure treatment facili-
ties, and lumber import substitution pro-


In some cooperative format, the
Forestry Division should take the lead in con-
ceptualizing and shaping a nature tourism and
domestic recreational facility development
plan, including a hiking trail system, provision
of shelters, and implementation of an educa-
tional program (drawing on the models now
underway L' St. Lucia, 'renada, Montserrat,
and the U.S. Virgin Islands).


A resource inventory, including map-
ping the location and extent of the remaining
wetlands (both St. Kitts and Nevis), is a criti-
cal requirement which should be undertaken
as soon as possible. It would appear that the
legal structure for protection of wetlands is in-
cluded within the 1987 National Conservation
and Environment Protection Law.

As a model for other wetlands, the
present plan for the establishment of a wildlife
sanctuary for Greatheeds Pond at Conaree,
for which a funding proposal is awaiting ap-
proval from ICOD, should be started as soon
as possible, perhaps in cooperation with the
St. Christopher HI heritage Society. Pond rmon-

itoring should not await word on the ICOD
funding. Separate, internal or external fund-
ing should be identified for ongoing monitor-
ing regimes.


In addition to the above recommen-
dations which apply generally to both St. Kitts
and Nevis, specific consideration should be
given to certain requirements in Nevis. Be-
fore any serious forestry program or projects
can be properly developed for this island, a
Division of Forestry must be instituted within
the Nevis Agricultural Department and at
least one trained forester employed to manage
such a division. Standards for identifying, se-
lecting and ranking prospective "areas of spe-
cial concern" or forest reserves should be one
of the foremost responsibilities of the Nevis
Division of Forestry. Earlier efforts to declare
Nevis Peak and other forested upland areas as
national parks could and should be included in
this process. Regulations for the implemen-
tation of Part VII of the National Conserva
tion and Environment Protection Act are a
badly needed next step to enable Nevis to
move ahead with a forestry protection pro-
gram. Additionally, the proposed Nevis

Forestry Division should work with the Nevis
Water Department to employ effective water-
shed management strategies.

Natural reforestation is occurring on
many abandoned lands, so a large-scale, artifi-
cial reforestation campaign would not be the
best use of available resources, except perhaps
for seriously damaged or eroded sites in key
watersheds. Small-scale projects could in-
clude managed mini-plantations using fast-
growing fuelwood species such as Leucaena
for charcoal or those specially planted for
fence post production or agro-forestry pro-
jects which inter-crop fruit or fodder trees
with vegetable crops. Tree planting initiatives
for erosion control within, on the sides and on
the upper edge of eroding ghauts and as wind
breaks in fields would be highly effective in
stemming one aspect or NevL_' soil loss prob-
lem. Lower cost fencing is needed to mount
the first phase of a strategy to reduce over.
grazing on the island. An expanded nursery
output of Gliroidia, which can be planted as a
living fence, would also help.

Finally as recreational and scientific
use of Nevis Peak increases, the collection of
plant specimens and hiking access should be


2.2.1 Overview



Upon arriving in St. Kitts in 1493, the
chronicler of Columbus' second voyage noted
the presence of "verdant forests and sparkling
streams. ." (Matheson, 1985). At present,
almost 500 years later, "verdant forests" have
be.n displaced up to elevations between 800
and 1,400 feet (Prins, 1987), and no "sparkling
streams" can be found below 400 feet, except
after heavy rainfall (Oelsner, 1986). But, un-
like most islands in the Caribbean, the area of
forest on St. Kitts has expanded in recent
decades, due to the abandonment of sugar
cultivation on steeper lands following mecha-
nization of the industry. Given the impor-
tance of vegetation to water cycling, storage,
and recharge, this trend will have a favorable
impact on the island's freshwater resources.
An estimated 3,500 acres, some 22 percent of
the tetal area of forest (16,000 ac), consists of
new pioneer succession or secondary growth
(Prins, 1987).

Numerous studies of water resources
on both St. Kitts and Nevis have been under-
taken over the last quarter century, beginning
with that of Sir William Halcrow and Partners
(Halcrow, 1966). Torres (1985) provides a
brief description of each of these research ef-

Partly as a result of the considerable
research that has been conducted, relatively
substantive data on rainfall and water re-
sources are available. In fact, some 50 rain
gauges are present on St. Kitts (Torres 1985),
but none are located within the rain forest;
thus, as indicated in Section 1.2.1, rainfall
patterns for these areas have been estimated
on the basis of vegetation. The estimated av-
erage mean monthly precipitation for the is-
land of St. Kitts is 64 inche- as shown in Table
2.2(1). Average evapotranspiration has been
estimated at 45 inches (Torres 1985).

Water from the island's elevated
mountain core drains to the sea via river val-
leys or ghauts (guts) which usually are dry
along all or most of their stretches. Only the
relatively large Wingfield and Cayon Rivers
flow almost to the sea for much of the wettest
part of the year. Many of the streams are
spring-fed, and normally flow to about the 250
meter contour before disappearing under-
ground. Intakes for the public water supply
intercept the surface flow either right at the
spring or at a slightly lower elevation
(Kennedy and Robbins, 1988).

Water is drawn into the public supply
from five streams (see Table 2.2(2)). To-
gether these supply about 85 percent of the
island's needs (Oelsner, 1986), but, as
outlined below, attention is turning to
expanding the contribution of groundwater
resources to satisfy future demand.

The water is produced and dis-
tributed through three main systems. These

1) The Wingfield, Frankland and
Stonefort/Basseterre System
(WFS/Basseterre System), which
services Basseterre, Frigate Bay
(the main tourist area) and all the
leeward communities to Dieppe
Bay -- a total of about 70 percent
of the island's population;

2) The Phillips and Lodge System,
supplying the area from Lodge to
Dieppe Bay; and

3) The Greenhill or Cayon System,
servicing Cayon, Keys, Brighton,
Stapleton, Monkey Hill, New
Road and the Sugar Factory
(Oelsner, 1986).

Three levels of service are available,
as listed below, with each serving the propor-
tion of population indicated in parentheses

Table 2.2(1). Mean monthly precipitation for the Island of St. Kitts.

(%) (inches)

January 5.63 3.60
February 4.97 3.18
March 4.55 2.91
April 7.05 4.51
May 10.48 6.71
June 5.99 3.83
July 8.13 5.20
August 8.84 5.66
September 11.53 7.38
October 10.97 7.02
November 12.81 8.20
December 9.23 5.91

Source: Torrx .. 1985

Table 2.2(2). Stream water statistics for the Island of St. Kif.tts.

Average Minimum


Source: Torres, 1985.



(pers. commun., A. Rawlins, Water Depart-
ment Manager, 1990):

public standpipes (35%);

yard standpipes (10%);

private (e.g.. home, business)
connections (55%).

The spring intakes, as well as the
electrical supply for ground water pumping,
are susceptible to hurricane damage, and :hus
the entire system is considered to be in a very

vulnerable position. The only mitigation mea-
sure recommended to date has been stand-by
emergency pumping which could yield at least
six gallon! /person/day after distribution sys-
tem losses (Oelsner, 1986). Imported gener-
ators and pumps for emergency situations
were recently received by the Water Depart-
ment (pers. commun., A. Rawlins, Water De-
partment Manager, 1990).

At present, there is only one treat-
ment plant, at La Guerite, where sediment
settling and chlorination is carried out on the
surface water which feeds into the plant. This
treated water is supplied to Basseterre proper;
the water supplied to the remainder of the is-
land is not treated (pers. commun., A.
Rawlins, Water Department Manager, 1990).

Very few roof catchments and cis-
terns are used on the island at present, but all
new homes in the Frigate Bay area are re-
quired to install these systems. In the past,
the emphasis on decentralized water supplies
and self sufficiency was much greater.

The impoundment of water on St.
Kitts is achieved through the use of storage
tanks located in numerous communities. The
largest of these is the La Guerite Reservoir,
which has served Basseterre since early in this
century. No stream reservoirs have been de-
veloped, i.e., through dam construction.

At present, three 300,000 imperial
gallon tanks, fed by wells in the Basseterre.
Valley, store water for Frigate Bay (pers.
commun., W. Liburd, Managing Director,
FBDC, 1990). Two additional tanks, each
with a capacity of 500,000 gallons, are pro-
posed for Frigate Bay; the same is proposed
for the Southeast Peninsula. Designs have
been approved, but no final project approval
or funding has as yet been secured (pers.
commun., A. Rawlins, Water Department
Manager, 1990).

The supply and delivery of water,
along with electricity, have received increasing
attention in recent years. These utilities are
regarded as essential in view of increasing de-
mands from the country's economic diversifi-
cation program and more general expansion
in the lead growth sectors of industry, tourism,

and both sugar and non-sugar agriculture
(e.g., for irrigation). As outlined in the Na-
tional Development Plan (GOSKN, 1987c),
the focus has been not only on enhancing the
physical integrity of the public utilities system
but also on administrative structures, namely,
upgrading and increasing technical, manage-
rial and administrative personnel, while giving
special consideration to the development of
improved organizational structures. The
Water Department (within the Ministry of
Communications, Works and Public Utilities)
is charged with water supply and distribution
on St. Kitts and Nevis, while the Ministry of
Health is responsible for the monitoring of
water quality. As outlined in Section 2.2.3, a
variety of institutional, as well as legislative,
adjustments have been recommended by
consultants to clarify control and management
of water resources and to improve water
quality monitoring.


An analysis of the water sector was
carried out for St. Kitts and Nevis in 1987 by
Ker, Priestman and Associates, under the
sponsorship of CIDA (KPA, 1987). The anal-
ysis looked into a variety of factors relevant to
water resources management and planning,
such as per capital consumption, population
growth and distribution, industrial develop-
ment, and tourism. The current and future
water supply balance for each island was cal-

On St. Kitts, population was esti-
mated to increase at 0.5 percent annually be-
yond the 1980 census year. The number of
tourists during the peak period was estimated
at 600 (in 1987), but increasing to 3,000 by
2010, because of planned resort development
on the Southeast Peninsula (KPA, 1988).

It is noted that domestic demand
does not vary significantly between the wet
and dry seasons. But since the main tourist
season occurs in the winter, demand for water
from this sector becomes most intense during
the driest months of the year (December to

Table 2.2(3) summarizes data on the
supply, demands and losses for the St. Kitts
water system for the years 1987 and 2010.
The well yields indicated assume 24 hour/day
pumping in 1987 (necessary to provide suffi-
cient water), but decreased to a preferred 16
hour/day regime in 2010. Yields from the
surface sources assume a 24 hour supply but
with minimum average monthly flows. Supply
figures in the table are based on new produc-
tion wells being inoperative in 1987 but sup-
plingg water in 2010. Design demands corre-
spond to the peak demand season, which co-
incides (due to tourism) with the period of
lowest surface water supply (KPA, 1988).

The summarized analysis (Table
2.2(3)) revealed that none of the water sys-
tems currently have sufficient supply to meet
existing demand, the overall deficit on the is-
land being an estimated 675,000 Igpd. But
with the commissioning of new production
wells, ample water is projected by the year
2010 (KPA, 1988).

The main industrial user on the is-
land is the sugar factory operated by St. Kitts
Sugar Manufacturing Corporation (SSMC),
followed by the brewery and the bottling com-
pany. SSMC maintains its own water supply
for the factory consisting of a surface ':;Jter
source and two wells. The company also has
two additional wells that were drilled for irri-
gation purposes (pers. commun., A. Rawlins,
Water Department Manager, 1990). All other
industries on the island are dry and thus do
not use much water. No plans exist to try to
attract additional industries that use substan-
tial amounts of water, but the island probably
could accommodate some (pers. commun., A.
Knight, CIC Executive Director, 1990).

With respect to the anticipated ex-
pansioa in consumption by the tourism sector,
it should be noted that a 10 inch water main
has already been installed to the end of the
Southeast Peninsula; it was constructed con-
currently with the road into the area and ',as
completed in December, 1989 (pers. com-
mun., A. Rawlins, Water Department Man-
ager, 1990).

Beginning in the mid-1970's attention
turned to irrigation, primarily as a result of

the interest of NACO, the National Agricul-
tural Corporation (now SSMC). SSMC is the
country's managing and marketing agency for
the sugar industry. Various investigators have
concluded that irrigation for the industry is vi-
able, but some feel additional groundwater
studies and drilling are required. Another
concern has been the island's lack of experi-
ence with irrigation and with the problems in-
herent to it (Torres, 1985).

At present, "'ery little irrigation is in
use on St. Kitts for agricultural purposes (i.e.,
not including the golf courses). SSMC was in-
volved in a pilot irrigation scheme in the early
1980's, but present; uses no irrigation sys-
tems other than for propagation (pers. com-
mun., R. Klenzman, SSMC Agronomist,
1990). The Taiwan-sponsored agricultural
project at Needsmust Estate, northeast of
Basseterre, maintains the largest area of irri-
gated agricultural land on the island, but this
consists of only three acres of vegetables
under sprinkler-irrigated cultivation. The
project's water is drawn from a well that re-
mains under the control of the SSMC. Thus,
while the supply is considered adequate, the
management at the estate reportedly has no
control over scheduling the supply of water to
its field. At times, there is excess flow, re-
sulting in flooding (pers. commun., C. Evelyn,
Needsmust Estate Manager, 1990).


Until the early 1970's, groundwater
on St. Kitts was "virtually a virgin resource" as
the island's needs were satisfied entirely by
surface water from springs and streams
(Christmas, 1977). Attention has turned in-
creasingly to ti island's groundwater re-
sources as a soirfce of supply, necessitated, ac-
cording to Oelsner (1986), by a growing water
deficit and because surface water resources
are fully developed. Stanley (1985) points out,
however, that surface water sources could
provide the isiazd with all of its water, but that
these sources are susceptible to hurricane
damage. Thus, it is largely on reliability
grounds, these consultants claim, that
groundwater sources are being developed. In
any case, "springs" (i.e., surface water base
flow), rather than groundwater, continue

Table 2.2(3). Water supply (both surface and groundwater sources), demands, and
losses In St. Kitts for 1987 and 2C10.

UNIT QUANTITY (Igpd) (Igpd) (Igpd) (Igpd)

Residents, Rural
Residents, Urban
Golf Course Irrigation
Sheep and Goats




Total Consumption
Total Looses

Total Production Required
Total Supply

Total Surplus (Deficit)

2010 STATU ,
Residents, Rural
Resldents, Urban
Golf Course Irrigation
Sheep and Goats







Total Consumption
Total Losses

Total PFoductlon Required
Total Supply

Total Surplus (Deficit)




Source: Ker, Prleetman and Associates, 1988.

to dominate the St. Kitts system, accounting
for about 85 percent of the total supply in
1986 (Oelsner, 1986).


As confirmed by the CIDA-spon-
Exploratory Drilling Project (see side-
the coastal aquifer, containing seven


Throughout most of the 1980's, a relatively comprehensive drilling project was under-
taken on both St. Kitts and Nevis, under the sponsorship of CIDA (KPA, 1988). The project
had three main purposes, namely:

(1) To Locate sources of groundwater and determine availability and quality of
groundwater at the sites drilled.

(2) To locate, design and construct production wells to meet the unsatisfied potable
water demand.

(3) To assess if further carefully-planned drilling, including high contour exploratory
drilling, is likely to delineate further significant sources of groundwater.

In relation to objective no. 1, some 29 test holes were drilled, and most were pumped
to determine yield and to obtain a sample for quality analysis. In general, the availability and
quality of groundwater are good on St. Kitts. Eleven additional production wells were identi-
fied which can supply 1.6 million gallons per day (MGD) of potable water, through a 16
hour/day pumping reg1r:ne.

The second project purpose was addressed through the construction of seven 8-Inch
production wells and the redevelopment of four others.

The third stated purpose led to a hydrogeology study including an assessment of the
island's groundwater resource potential. I

Specific details of the project are described in KPA (1988); among many other features,
it included determining aquifer boundaries, predicting the effects of pumping on the water
table, and on r',chargc, discharge, springs, and stream-flow.

Wells wore drilled at elevations ranging from 68 to 525 feet above mean sea level and to
depths ranging from 77 feet to 510 feet below the surface. The strata encountered consisted
of interiayered volcanic rock (!ava rock) and epiclastic volcanics (sand, gravel, and rock frag-
ments). In all but one well, the aquifer consisted of an epiclastic volcanic layer located near
and below sea level (KPA, 1988).

Some 12 of 20 completed test holes showed a measure of success. Low aquifer
transmissivity is the main factor contributing to unsuccessful wells. Successful test holes are
those at which a 50 imperial gallon per minute (Igpm) well could be constructed. Several
factors control the permeability or transmissivity of St. Kitts' geologic units, including grain
size (a maj,;r factor), degree of sorting, degree of compaction, and cementation (KPA, 1988).

The prim iry conclusion of the overall drilling study was that "St. Kitts possesses a good
groundwater resource for a small Caribbean island, with the capacity to meet present and
projected future domestic demand, In conjunction with the surface sources." (KPA, 1988).

major groundwater basins, is the location of als belong to two main geologic deposits -- the
the island's best-yielding present and future Basseterre Tuffs and the Later Tuffs of
wells (see Figure 2.2(1)). The aquifer materi- Mount Misery (now called Mount Liamuiga).


The aquifer occurs where these two deposits
exist within a zone approximately between sea
level a. d 50 feet below mean sea level (msl).
The main untapped reserve is located beneath
the north flank of Mt. Liamuiga, between
Sandy Point and Sadlers (KPA, 1988).

Because of its high recharge rates
and high transmissivity, the coastal aquifer is a
favorable unit for wells. An estimated 20 per-
cent of all rainfall on the island becomes
groundwater flow; this is less, however, than
previously estimated (KPA, 1988). Some
11.75 million gallons per day (MGD) is the
estimated total amount of water that ulti-
mately can be tapped by tube wells (KPA,
1988), again less than previously claimed, e.g.,
by Halcrow (1966) and Oelsner (1986). Of
this total, 1.4 MGD currently can be ex-
tracted, and sites for withdrawing an addi-
tional 2.7 MGD have been identified. Sites
for extracting a portion of the remainder of

7.65 MGD also have been located through the
drilling project (KPA, 1988).

It is estimated that once the new pro-
duction wells have been commissioned and
the overall distribution system upgraded, the
island will have a potable water supply surplus
of 1.3 to 2.1 MGD (KPA, 1988).



Nevis is somewhat drier than its sister
island of St. Kitts; this is primarily a function
of the lower elevation of its central mountain.
Annual rainfall varies from approximately 900
mm (35 in) in the drier, coastal regions of the
southeast to 2,540 mm (100 in) at Nevis Peak,
the highest point on the island (see also Sec-
tion 1.2.1). Average annual rainfall, based on
at least 20 years of record, is 1,170 mm (46



7 t^ I -. --





Figure 2.2(1). Generalized geologic cross-section showing groundwater storage areas,
St. Kitts (source: KPA Ltd., 1988).

in). Over half of the island, however, receives
less than 1,300 mm (50 in) per annum (Atkins,
1983). Rain gauges are located at eight sta-
tions around the island, and daily rainfall data
are normally collected by the Agricultural De-
partment. However, the Department is
presently short-staffed and unable to collect
information from three of the gauges. Rain-
fall records date back to 1V38 but are not
continuous for the entire period. Of the eight
stations on Nevis, three (Prospect, Hamilton
and Hardtimes) have 40 years of continuous
data (Pemberton, 1985). Rainfall data are ac-
curate for the lower elevations of Nevis, but
because there are no rain gauges above 300 m,
rainfall patterns for these areas (like St. Kitts)
have been estimated on the basis of vegetation
types and extrapolation from data collected at
lower elevations.

Annual rainfall decreased 15 percent
from 1975 to 1985, and some clLnatologists
believe that Nevis, like other Caribbean is-
lands, experiences a 60 year rainfall cycle and
is currently at the bottom end of the cycle.
Rainfall averages are expected to remain low
through the mid-1990's, when this pattern will

begin to reverse. A pronounced wet season
from June through December and a compar-
atively dry season from January to May affect
all areas of the island but the top 200 m of
Nevis Peak.

Halcrow (1983) developed a rough
water balance for Nevis based on 105.3 million
cubic meters of precipitation per year (see
Figure 2.2(2)). The evapotranspiration and
run-off rates were analytically derived and
were not based on actual field data since hy-
drological information has never been col-
lected on Nevis. Presumably more accurate
groundwater storage and recharge rates based
on actual hydrogeologic observations were
calculated by Ker, Priestman and Associates
(1986). Observed recharge was very close to
hydrologists' standard assumption of 20 per-
cent of annual rainfall. On Nevis, this works
out to be 240 mm (10 in) per year. UNESCO
recently prepared a hydrogeological atlas of
Nevis (unpublished as of mid-1990) which will
add to this earlier work.

Water drains in a radial pattern from
Nevis Peak to the ocean. This pattern is only





Figure 2.2(2). Annual water balance for Nevis (source: Halcrow, 1983).


disrupted by the smaller volcanic cones of
Hurricane, Saddle and Round Hills. The
drainage ghauts ar- relatively straight and cut
deep, steep sided ravines into the flanks of the
Peak. Almost all of these ghauts are
ephemeral. Only Bath and Camps Rivers
actuauy flow to the sea, but the sources of
both these watercourses are springs less than
1.6 km (1 m) from the shore. The remaining
ghauts flow three to four times a year. No
data on stream flow, pck discharge, or
sediment loads exist for any ghauts on Nevis.
Darby (1987) estimated peak discharges for
different sized drainage areas based on a 24-
hour intense storm, but no storm run-off
profiles have bcen developed for any of the

Sev\naty five percent of Nevis' land
area is covered by very shallow clay soils un-
derlain by a siLa pan that severely limits in-
filtration. A significantt portion of ground-
water recharge is believed to occur along the
more permeable ghaut berA (pers. com., B.
Kennedy, BDD Resident Advisor to and Act-
ing Director of the Nevis Water Department,
1990) For this reason, it would be extremely
valuable to measure the quantity and duration
of flow in at least the larger ghauts.

Nevis draws mainly on rain and
ground? .r for its water supply because no
lakes or ponds and virtually no rivers (only
intermittent streams) exist. Until recently
surface water, in the form of high elevation
springs (carrying run-off water from the Peak)
constitLted the major source of freshwater for
domestic, agricultural and industrial purposes.
As indicated ih she sub-section on St. Kitts, an
extensive well drilling program for both St.
Kitts and Nevis has been completed by Ker,
Priestman and Associates for CIDA in an at-
tempt to augment the surface supply with
groundwater resources. Three coastal
aquifers were identified and several test wells
will soon be put into operation. Figure 2.2(3)
shows the aerial extent of the coastal aquifers,
and Figure 2.2(4) depicts a cross section of the
island's larger freshwater aquifer. Many
Nevisians supplement their public water sup-
ply with rainwater collected in cisterns, and
some rely solely on this method for their do-
mestic water supply.


Nevis' domestic, agricultural and in-
dustrial water needs are met by a combination
of surface, rain and groundwater sources.
Groundwater constitutes approximately 80
percent of the public piped supply and surface
water the re.amining 20 percent. It is uncer-
tain what portion of the supply roof catch-
ments contribute.

Nevis is not divided into wate-shed
units for the purpose of water :'ssource man-
agement, possibly because the island's small
size facilitates its treatment as cae macro-
watershed. The wtIer supply system is di-
vided into eleven zones for purposes of de-
mand estimates (Table 2.2(4)), but four dis-
tribution networks service the entire island.
The Nevis Peal:-Nel'; lver system supplies
the southern ha7.i of the island, the Maddens
system the northeastern portion and the
Camps Spring-Jcssup system the northwestern
section. Charlesiown has its own wells which

o 1 2 A
Miles ---- AQUIFERS

Figure 2.2(3). Aerial extent of coastal aquifer,
Nevis (source: KPA, 1986).


Flguro 2.2(4). Generalized geologic cross-section showing groundwater storage areas,
Nevls (source: KPA Ltd., 1986).

Table 2.2(4). Nevis domestic water demand by zone.


Newcastle 250 16,250
Westbury 95 6,175
Cotton Ground-Jessups 1,247 81,055
Charlestown 2,392 155,480
Morning Star 1,010 65,650
Stoney Hill 1,767 114,855
Hardtlmes 1,241 80,665
Butlers 344 22,360
Brick Kiln 362 23,530
Camps 407 26,455
Mt. Lily 333 21,645

Total Population: 9,448 Total Demand: 614,120

Source: Data from the Nevis Water Department, 1990.





serve this population center. Catchment areas
surrounding there' water sources are illus-
trated in Figure 2.2(5). (Catchment area
refers to the sub-watershed area upslope from
a water supply.) Most of the springs produce
variable flows throughout the year, and some
do not flow at all during the dry season.

In addition to the Charlestown wells,
the surface water supply is supplemented by
wells at Zion and Maddens, and five more
should be commissioned within the next year.
Spring and well water is held in covered tanks
and reservoirs at several points along the dis-
tribution network (Hurricane Hugo took roofs
off some of the reservoirs in September, 1989,
and three are still missing). All springs, wells
and storage tanks comprising the public water
supply system are illustrated in Figure 2.2(6).
New River Spring and a few low yield bore-
holes are used for agricultural purposes only.
Table 2.2(5) lists all of the current and
planned water sources by distribution system.


With all wells pumping 24 hours a
day, the drinking water supply on Nevis is
presently 721,440 Imperial gaLons per day
(Igpd). Based on the Water Department's
population figure of 9,448, this supply should
be adequate to meet the domestic demand. In
reality all the pumps are not operational for
24 hours, and significant shortfallU occur. The
amount of water can also vary from thl dry
season to the wet season. During the dry sea-
son of 1985, for example, particularly acute
water shortages were experienced
(Pemberton, 1985). Using 1985 population
estimates Ker, Priestman and Associates
(1986) calculated a domestic water supply
deficit of 243,000 gallons per day (gpd) and
proposed that this shortfall be made up by the
commissioning of five production wells.
These wells will raise the total water supply to
just over one million Imperial gallons per day
by late 1990, and for the first time Nevis will
have a surplus, rather than a deficit, of water.


-* Springs
0 1 2 3 Miles

Figure 2.2(5). Key catchment areas of Nevis (;ource: adapted from ECNAMP, 1980a).








Figure 2.2(6). Nevis water supply system (source: adapted from Hobson, 1990 and
pers. commun., B. Kennedy, BDD Resident Advisor to and Acting Director
of the Nevis Water Department, 1990).



Table 2.2(5). Nevis' water supply system, current and projected.


Maddens System
Maddens Spring
Maddens' Well #1

Maddens' Well #2
Butler's Well

Camp's Spring-Jessup System
Camp's Spring
Jessup's Spring

Paradise Well

Nevis Peak-New River System
Nevis Peak Spring
Zion Well

Padlock Well
*Hichman's Well

Charlestown System
CSS Well
Government Road Well

Hospital Well


By 1991


By 1991


By 1991


By 1991

Current Total
1991 Total

Current Total
1991 Total

Current Total

Current Total
1991 Total

Current Supply for Entire Island
1991 Projected Supply for Entire Island

Note: *Undetermined operation date.

Source: Nevis Water Department, 1990.





388,800 (*457,920)



The estimates Ker, Priestman and
Associates made were based on per capital
consumption rates of 60 gpd for Nevisians and
100 gpd for tourists. Nevis Water Department
meter readings from January to June 1989
show an average per capital consumption of 55
gpd. The rural average, however, is 65 gpd,
and the Department bases its demand esti-
mates on this figure, allowing 100-200 gpd for
tourists. Using the higher consumption rates,
there will still be a surplus of water after 1990.

The 1980-81 population census re-
vealed that approximately 49 percent of the
population on Nevis obtained its water from
public standpipes or tanks, 24 percent had
public water piped into their yard or dwelling
and 24 percent utilized a private source.
(These figures were based on less than 30
percent of the population, and therefore may
be slightly inaccurate.) Current figures are
not available, although it is probable that the
percentage of the population with public
piped water has risen substantially. It is inter-
esting to note that in a recent study Hobson
(1990) found that of 123 households without
public piped water, the percentages of those
using public standpipes and tanks versus pri-
vate catchments were very close to those cal-
culated in the 1980-81 census.

The Water Department is in the pro-
cess of installing water meters in every build-
ing that receives public piped water. As of
June 1990, the Department had 794 domestic,
17 non-domestic and 21 hotel meters func-
tioning (pers. common., B. Kennedy, BDD
Advisor to Nevis Water Department, June
1990). Water is metered at a cost of
EC$10.00 per 1,000 gallons for domestic users
and EC$20.00 per 1,000 gallons for non-
domestic consumers.

The Water Department estimates
that leakage in the water supply system may
be as high as 25 percent of production (pers.
commun., B. Kennedy, BDD Advisor to Nevis
Water Department, July 1990). Prior to 1988,
when all of the water mains in Charlestown
were replaced, water losses were as high as 50


Several departments in the Nevis Is-
land Administration are charged with water
management responsibilities. Public water
supply is managed by the Water Department
within the Ministry of Communications,
Works and Public Utilities, the Agricultural
Department oversees all irrigation projects,
and the Health Department is responsible for
water quality monitoring. The Water De-
partment maintains a map of the public water
distribution system, and the Agricultural De-
partment keeps records of water allocated for
irrigation or stock watering purposes.

No regular water quality testing is
done for any of the drinking water sources.
Water is crudely filtered at each intake and
chlorine is added to some of the reservoirs,
but not on a regularly scheduled basis. Nevis
does not at present have a laboratory capable
of comprehensive water quality analysis, al-
though the Water Department is in the pro-
cess of setting up such a facility and is cur-
rently training a Nevisian to work in the lab.
The Alexandra Hospital can also test for bac-
teriological contamination, pH and suspended
solids but is too under-staffed to assume such

Water resource management falls
under the Watercourses and Waterworks Act
of 1956 and the Watercourses and Water-
works Regulations of 1973 (see Section 2.2.2).
A major weakness in Nevis' water legislation
is that no provisions exist for the management
of sewage disposal. Wilkinson (1989) sug-
gested that this function be incorporated in
the activities of the Water Department.

2.2.2 Problems and Issues



Only the water supplied to Basseterre
proper is treated (at La Guerite), with sedi-

mentation, filtration, and chlorination. Water
distributed elsewhere on the island commonly
shows excessively high readings of coliforms,
suggesting bacteriological, but not pathogenic,
contamination (Chavannes, 1989). In May
1989, for example, every tap water sample
taken on the island, except those provided
with water from the La Guerite treatment
plant, did not meet WHO standards for both
fecal and coliform bacteria (pers. commun., T.
Mills, Chief Public Health Inspector, 1990).

Gastroenteritis and diarrhea are rel-
atively significant health problems on the is-
land, but it is unclear whether they are caused
by contaminated water per se or by a variety of
sanitation-related problems. The records of
the J.N. France Gernral Hospital reveal that
gastro/diarrhea was the third leading cause of
total pediatric admissions between 1984 and
1988, after respiratory tract and viral infec-
tions and injuries. Out of a total of 2,151 ad-
mitted children between the ages of 0 and 14,
some 428 or 20 percent were accounted for by
gastro/diarrhea (Chavannes, 1989).

The incidence of gastro appears to be
distributed unevenly, both spatially and sea-
sonally. Christ Church Parish, for example,
on the northeast side of the island, has the
highest incidence of the disease, followed by
St. George Parish where it is about equal to
that of the capital, Basseterre. On a seasonal
basis, gastro rises steadily until May, peaks in
June, and falls steadily to its lowest level in
December. According to Chavannes (1989),
this seasonal variation seems to be related to
the mango season, and therefore, as noted
above, the particular role of contaminated
drinking water is unclear.

The source of water contamination
also is unclear, due to very limited research
efforts. The major aquifers appear to be pol-
lution free at present, but most potable water
on the island is derived from surface sources.
It may be that, at times, these sources have
high bacterial levels due to natural causes.
The Chief Public Health Inspector (pers.
commun., T. Mills, 1990) suspects con-
tamination may result from storage tanks or
from the numerous leaks in the distribution
system. At times of low flow through satu-
rated ground, pipe leaks would allow sur-

rounding water to be drawn into the system,
water which may be contaminated, e.g., with

The aquifers of the major well fields
presently appear to be pollution free. Quality
samples taken from all production wells and
most test holes, showed that all but one (from
test hole #21 at Buckleys) were suitable for
drinking. As a result of the depth of the water
table and the nature of the overlying soils, the
St. Kitts aquifers are considered relatively re-
sistant to pollution from surface sources
(KPA, 1988). However, to maintain the
aquifers in this condition over the long term,
an active monitoring effort will be required.

The Basseterre Valley aquifer, for
example, which currently provides the island
with a major portion of its acceptable potable
water, already is under development stress,
given its location beneath the growing center
of St. Kitts' residential, commercial, and in-
dustrial activity. Potential pollution risks were
identified by KPA in 1988:

automobile showrooms. using in-
dustrial solvents;

auto service stations, disposing
waste oils and solvents, and with
underground fuel tanks;

the SSMC sugar processing fac-
tory, which discharges "high-
strength" liquid waste to the sea
via a concrete-lined trench;

photo processing laboratory,
which discharges used chemicals;

numerous homes with "soak-away"
sewage disposal (i.e., cess pools);

schools using "soak-aways" for
sewage and possibly laboratory

airport, with "soak-aways" and
possibly spillages of jet fuel and
fire fighting chemicals.

More than half the homes in
Basseterre use pit privies (pers. commun., T.

Mills, Chief Public Health Inspector, 1990)
with essentially no treatment of human
wastes. Given the town's location at the edge
of the sea, this fact may be more of a coastal
pollution problem than one of groundwater
contamination, but it could also contribute to
water supply contamination because of leaks
in the distribution network.

Further information on pollution and
environmental health is provided in Section 6
of the Profile.


A study of the water sector by Stanley
International determined that "there is a large
amount of unaccounted for water ." In
fact the difference between the amount pro-
duced and that actually consumed amounts to
some 780,000 gallons per day or 39 percent of
the amount produced. This is equivalent to 11
gallons per connection per hour. These con-
sultants concluded also that by introducing a
purposeful leak detection and repair program,
no major new source and distribution work
would be necessary for the next five years
(Stanley, 1985). Rawlins (pers. commun.,
Water Department Manager, 1990) feels the
39 percent figure may be an overestimate. In
any case, the leakage problem has yet to be
addressed in any serious way. Essentially this
aspect of water system operation and mainte-
nance has been neglected, primarily due to
budgetary limitations. But it is unclear as to
why funding agencies providing support for
the water sector (e.g., CIDA) have seemingly
put less weight on this problem than they have
on expanding groundwater production.

Another concern is the need for more
extensive water metering as a means of pro-
moting water conservation by consumers. In
1985, an estimated 3,000 domestic consumers,
out of a total of 4,938, were metered; of 247
commercial water users, 111 were metered; all
10 industrial consumers were metered, while
none of the 60 Government consumers were
metered (Stanley, 1986). At present, only new
water connections made by the Water De-
partment, approximately 250 per year, are in-

stalled with meters (pers. commun., A.
Rawlins, Water Department Manager, 1990).


The considerable attention to water
resources (particularly groundwater) devel-
opment on St. Kitts has gone forward in the
absence of an overall master plan for water or
even an economic analysis to determine the
optimal ratio of surface to groundwater ex-
ploitation. The approach adopted in St. Kitts
has been to develop ground and surface
sources to provide for a higher level of supply
reliability in the face of emergency situations
such as hurricanes. Stanley (1985) has
pointed out that while reliability of supply is
an important concern and groundwater devel-
opment is therefore a constructive objective,
"no economic analysis has been done to de-
termine the precise ratio of surface water to
groundwater which should take place." This is
important in view of the higher overall costs of
groundwater exploitation -- i.e., both capital
and recurring pumping costs are involved
while, because of gravity flow, surface water
use primarily involves capital expenditure.

Furthermore, there probably is room
for expansions in the use of surface water re-
sources. Stanley (1985) suggests that the size
of intake pipes be increased as a means to
limit reliance on groundwater during the dry
season and thereby save on pumping costs.
However, potential impacts on aquatic life
(e.g., freshwater shrimp) need also to be con-
sidered in assessing any possible expansion of
surface water utilization.

Since, as noted above, there is a very
high degree of leakage in the distribution sys-
tem, as much as 39 or 40 percent (Stanley,
1985; Oelsner, 1986), the costs of rehabilitat-
ing the present system have to be weighed
against those of developing additional pro-
duction sources, but the degree to which such
analyses have been done appears to be quite
limited. These and other issues would best be
addressed through development of a Water
Master Plan.



Unlike many Eastern Caribbean is-
lands, the upland forest resources of Nevis
have not yet been encroached upon by agri-
cultural squatters. The main threats to the
upper Nevis Peak watershed areas are char-
coal burning and the construction of homes
(primarily by non-Nevisians) up the lower
flanks of the mountain. The higher springs
(Nevis Peak and Maddens) are generally well
protected by vegetative cover but have experi-
enced accelerated siltation due to defoliation
and landslides caused by Hurricane Hugo in
1989. The areas surrounding Camps and
Jessup Springs are still undeveloped, with no
threat to the water sources at the present
time. Many of the older, concrete reservoirs
have problems with siltation and seepage.
Earth tremors crack the masonry, and water
also seeps through the permeable substrate
(Pemberton, 1985; pers. commun., B.
Kennedy, BDD Advisor to Nevis Water
Department, July 1990).

Many of the island's storage tanks
are capped, but the springs are open to con-
tamination by foraging monkeys, birds and
domestic livestock. Some Nevisians collect
their water supply from public tanks, which
may expose these sources to contamination.


Surface water supplies have rarely
been tested on Nevis. The Water Department
has placed a higher priority on water quantity
and has concentrated its efforts to date on
providing a 24-hour supply to the entire pop-
ulation. All of the CIDA wells weir, tested for
chloride, certain metals, nitrogen and col-
iform. Zion Well, Charlestown Secondary
School Well, Government Road Well and
Jessup and Camps Springs were also tested at
the same time and found to be of safe quality
for the parameters analyzed. The Water De-
partment has a portable DelAqua water test-
ing kit, but analysis is difficult because other
necessary lab equipment is not available (pers.
commun., B. Kennedy, BDD Advisor to Nevis

Water Department, July 1990). Even if test-
ing were done, the country lacks specific
drinking water quality standards for mea-
surement -- although the Water Departments
in St. Kitts and Nevis use WHO standards as
their guidelines. Protocols for sampling and
analysis procedures are also needed.

Water is crudely filtered at each in-
take (with a large mesh screen), and chlorine
is sometimes added to the reservoirs. Chlo-
ramines, a class of c~ cinogenic compounds,
can be formed if water rich in organic sub-
stances (not well-filtered) is chlorinated. It is
not known if this is a problem in Nevis.

Although the quality of rainwater
versus the public water supply is not known,
many Nevisians prefer the taste of "light" rain
water to "heavy" public water. It is common
for Nevisian households to use cisterns or
other rainwater collectors for drinking water
and the public supply for other purposes
(Hobson, 1990). Some islanders without
piped water also prefer to build cisterns be-
cause they believe them to be cheaper than
the public water supply (Hobson, 1990).

Major pollution threats to water
quality, which are discussed in more detail in
Section 6, include: fertilizers and biocides
(pesticides and herbicides), waste oil,
pathogenic bacteria from inadequate septic
systems, and leachate from solid waste dis-
posal sites (both authorized and unautho-
rized). The freshwater lens on Nevis is very
shallow, particularly as it approaches the
coastline. Infiltration trenches allow water to
be safely skimmed off the top of the aquifer in
these areas, where drilling a well is much
more likely to result in saline intrusion of the
freshwater. Although there are currently no
plans to use infiltration trenches for potable
water, if Nevis must rely on these shallow
trenches for drinking water in the future, great
care will have to be exercised because they are
extremely vulnerable to contamination by
agricultural chemicals.

The incidence of water-borne disease,
especially gastroenteritis, has not fluctuated
much over the past five years (pers. comm., C.
Fahie, Senior Public Health Inspector, July
1990 and M. Tyson, R.N., Matron, Alexandra

Hospital, August 1990); it is not the leading
cause of pediatric admissions to the hospital.
Records of visits to health facilities are not
maintained by disease type, and, therefore, it
is not possible to ascertain the number of ac-
tual cases. As is the case in St. Kitts, it is also
unclear whether the incidences of gastroen-
teritis are caused by contamination of the
water supply or are sanitation related. It
would be good practice to monitor the water
supply to ensure that sewage contaminated
water does not leak into the pipes during pe-
riods of low pressure. The aquifer appears to
be pollution free at this p2!nt in time, but
wellhead protection will become more and
more critical as the CIDA test wells are com-


Although the water supply system has
improved markedly in the last 5 years, several
parts of the island of Nevis still do not consis-
tently receive a 24 hour supply of water,
and/or the water pressure is frequently quite
low. Water shortages continue to be a prob-
lem during the dry season, which coincides
with the height of the tourist season, placing
even higher demands on the diminished sup-
ply. Exploitation of groundwater sources
should ameliorate this condition in the future.

Water distribution is closely tied to
the generation of electricity in Nevis. Often
times pumps cannot run due to shortages of
electricity or are burned out by power surges.
In addition, due to financial constraints,
backlogs of spare parts are not kept on the
island in the event of pump breakdowns. This
considerably delays the time required to bring
malfunctioning pumps back on line.

Over the years, several aid assistance
agencies (BDD, EEC, CIDA and USAID)
have funded projects to replace old water
mains or establish new pipeline systems, build
reservoirs and storage tanks, and drill and
commission wells. In mid-1990, five water
projects aimed at increasing the water supply
on Nevis were planned and/or underway:

1) Construction of reservoirs at Mt.
Lily and Maddens (BDD);

2) Construction of a pipeline system
to supply the northern part of the
island with the water from these
reservoirs (EEC);

3) Commissioning of six new pro-
duction wells (CIDA);

4) Extension of water mains into
areas that will be sold for resi-
dential development (sections of
Hardtimes and Hamilton are be-
ing developed now) (NIA);

5) Development of a source and
distribution system to supply the
new Four Seasons Hotel (NIA)

For years planners believed that
water resources were quite scarce on Nevis.
With the location and development of
groundwater sources, water now appears to be
more abundant than previously projected.
Distribution is currently the limiting factor in
providing an adequate supply to the popula-
tion. However, as several other Caribbean
nations have discovered, exploitation of
groundwater resources on a small island must
be done with extreme caution. The balance
between fresh and saline water is delicate and,
once tipped, is difficult to restore. Nevis'
three coastal aquifers are particularly vulner-
able to saline intrusion, as the water table
does not extend much above sea level. Sev-
eral of the CIDA test wells were either ini-
tially or subsequently contaminated with chlo-
rides. Ker, Priestman and Associates recom-
mend that water levels in all wells be main-
tained at 0.3 to 0.5 m (1 to 1.5 ft) above sea
level. If drawdown below sea level occurs, the
aquifer can be polluted for years or even
decades (KPA, 1986).

The Ker, Priestman and Associates
Report (1986) estimated that 25 percent of
Nevis' groundwater recharge, or 3 MGD,
(versus 2.3 MGD estimated by Halcrow in
1966) can be safely extracted. At present, ap-
proximately 0.6 MGD is pumped with one
MGD expected to be tapped within the next
year, leaving two MGD for future devel-

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