Press Release

Governor's Group
Department of Disaster Management
Release Date:
Tuesday, 30 April 2024 - 9:10am

Virgin Islands builders, farmers and land owners have access to detailed information about the nutrition, microbiology, permeability and vegetation of their soil thanks to the Department of Disaster Management’s (DDM) Comprehensive Soils Study continuing throughout this year.

Director of Disaster Management Mr. Jasen Penn said that these soil characteristics shed light on site-specific vulnerability to landslides, suitability for certain crops and other details.

“Once the project is finalised, farmers and landowners will be able take advantage of this soil analysis and make much more informed decisions about the safest and best possible use of their land,” Mr. Penn said.

The latest field visit saw the soils study team finalising sample gathering in Tortola and Virgin Gorda, carrying out two GIS workshops, and conducting outreach with students on Virgin Gorda under the direction of lead researcher Dr. Richard Teeuw, University of Portsmouth Professor of Geoinformatics and Disaster Risk Reduction.

Since the project launch, more than 60 separate locations across the Territory have been sampled. Analysis showing the soil type, chemistry and other characteristics informs decision making for disaster risk reduction, conservation, building construction, and agriculture, said DDM Senior Technical Planning Manager Melanie Daway, who is also the soils study project manager.

“Thirteen map layers for this project are largely complete, and the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College soils laboratory has the capacity to carry out additional analysis for conservation, development or agricultural purposes,” Ms. Daway said, adding, “This means that the partnerships we hoped to establish as part of this project are already bearing fruit.”

Ms. Daway said that 35 persons benefited from the latest training workshops, which shared how to apply GIS tools in farming, biodiversity conservation, geological hazards, and civil engineering. The research team also conducted hands-on sessions with four Territory secondary schools.

Launched in November 2022, the Darwin Plus-funded soils study is a partnership between the University of Portsmouth, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change; Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Environmental Health Division; H. Lavity Stoutt Community College; National Parks Trust; and the Town and Country Planning Department.

Caption 1: Virgin Islands soils study lead researcher Dr. Richard Teeuw leads a hands-on session with Virgin Gorda secondary students on the basics of soil sampling and        analysis. (Photo Credit: DDM)

Caption 2: DDM Senior Technical Planning Manager Melanie Daway guides Virgin Gorda secondary students in a field soil analysis. (Photo Credit: DDM)


Department of Disaster Management

#3 Wailing Road McNamara,
Road Town VG1110,
Tortola Virgin Islands
Tel: 284-468-4200 Fax:284-494-2024
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