Coastal Planner at the CZMU, Allison Wiggins (with loudspeaker in hand)??explaining the benefits of the sea yam to curious onlookers.(C. Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados is particularly vulnerable to high and rough seas pounding the east coast as a result of northern winter swells.

This was emphasised during an East Coast bus tour which was organised to educate persons about the issue. ?? During the three-hour long tour, technical officials from the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) highlighted the potential dangers as being the main reason why they insist on a 30 metre set back from the high water mark for new development.

During the tour, Technical Officer, Marvin Boyce, said Barbados was expected to experience northern winter swells for the remainder of the week, and cautioned that they were likely to get worse before improving.

"There was a low pressure system in Canada and the United States. When that happens, you get long period waves which affect us," he explained.

Mr. Boyce explained that Mullins Beach in St. Peter was a problem area as a result of the erosion that occurred there during such events. "We hope to conduct studies to assess the problem, look at its causes and come up with strategies to deal with the situation. That is part of the CRMP [Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Programme]," he told those in attendance.

Meanwhile, Coastal Planner at the CZMU, Allison Wiggins, pointed out that the practice by some coastal residents of planting coconut trees in an attempt to stabilise the soil was ineffective.

While at Glenburnie, St. John, one of the stops on the bus tour, Ms. Wiggins pointed out that some steps where houses once stood, but had disappeared as a result of "soil slumping". "With soil slumping there is nothing to provide a foundation. Other areas have started to go into the sea," she said.

In areas prone to erosion, she advised persons to plant sea-side yam, since it was the best way to stabilise land.

However, she added that while Barbados had lost a lot of its coastline to erosion, it did not mean that the island was getting smaller. She described Barbados as an accretionary prism. "Under the sea we are getting bigger," she explained.

The tour was organised by the Public Awareness and Education sub-committee of the Preparedness, Readiness and Resilience working group of the Technical Standing Committee on Coastal Hazards.


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