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Environment and health
Inappropriate land use and management is a central factor contributing to environmental degradation in Saint Lucia. As a consequence of current practices, increased stress on natural resources and biodiversity is evident, as are some of the consequences such as diminished food and water productive capacities through degradation of the terrestrial and marine environments. In addition the absence of effective forward planning, coupled with the ineffective enforcement of existing laws, is contributing to the growth of unplanned settlements, increased incidence of settlements in unsafe areas such as steep hillsides and flood plains, deforestation and poor building standards. In the long term, it is expected that soil fertility will be affected and sedimentation of the near shore marine environment will be accelerated. In 2009, the government approved a National Vision Plan which seeks to rationalize land use throughout the country.
Development of the agricultural sector, propelled by preferential arrangements for the export of bananas, brought with it the development of more marginal lands in the upper catchment areas. This development has resulted in extensive denudation of these catchment areas and an attendant loss of vegetative cover on the steep slopes, an increase in the incidence of landslides, soil erosion and siltation of drainage systems in the valley bottoms and ultimately, increased incidence of flash flooding.
In some cases there is soil and chemical contamination in surface water resources.