Gullies in Barbados

What is a gully?

Whenever you look at a satellite map of Barbados, the one thing that sticks out are the dark green gullies, which look like rivers stretching across the island.

Gullies are trenches in the ground carved by fast running water over time and are characterised by being heavily wooded, generally dry but have flowing water in times of heavy rainfall and being anywhere from 6 metres to more than 30 metres deep. They are located in nearly every parish, but begin in the central highland areas and spread out towards the coastline.

Gullies of Barbados
Ministry of Environment, 2006
Turner’s Hall Woods
Ministry of Environment, 2016

Importance of gullies

Gullies are important for many reasons including:

  1. They serve as drainage channels for the flow of water from high areas to the coast.
  2. Serve as a home for important native plants and animals.
  3. They have been used as a means of transportation as a shortcut between villages.
  4. They have resources for handicrafts and traditional medicines.
  5. Can be used for tourism, recreation and exercise such as hiking.
  6. Holding soil in place and reducing erosion.
  7. Scientific research and education.
Baskets made from natural Fibres
Photo Credit: Barbados natural Fibres network on Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/thebnfn/photos/a.1807775876100517/2200535986824502/

Threats to Gullies

  1. Illegal dumping of solid and liquid wastes.
  2. Chemical runoff from agriculture and industry.
  3. Deforestation and debushing which can cause soil erosion and flooding downstream.
  4. Invasive plant and animal species
Photo of invasive Macarthur palm (Ptychosperma macarthurii) it displaces native palms
Photo credit Invasive.org
https://www.invasive.org/browse/subthumb.cfm?sub=63328&fam=44#

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