photo: The Daily Herald

ORANJESTAD – Soil erosion could escalate into a major problem for St. Eustatius. Cliffs surrounding the historic monument Fort Oranje and the main road Bay Path have been gradually eroding, mainly due to the loose roaming cattle and human interference in the area.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria have stripped the cliff walls of most vegetation last year, compounding the situation further. This causes more loose debris to fall off the cliffs daily.

Signs were posted at the entrance atop and below the Bay Path prohibiting the use of any type of vehicle on the main road.

The acting government commissioner of St.Eustatius, Mike Franco, empathizes that in the interest of public safety, cooperation is very important. “I rely on the full cooperation of the Statia community as work continues to secure the cliffs.”

The entrance to the Bay Path is now already closed off with an electric fence at the top as well as the bottom. The electric fence gives a light shock, so that loose roaming livestock will not trespass the mentioned areas. This is no further danger to the livestock or humans, according to the Government Information Services of the island.

Two studies on the erosion were carried out by international companies DAM Caribbean N.V. and Royal Haskoning DHV. Environmental inspector Gershon Lopes sounded the alarm last year following confirmation of erosion. “St. Eustatius must look into this. We are losing ground and damaging our underwater life”, he pointed out.