One thing is for sure; the steep hillsides of the Virgin Islands do not lend themselves easily to soil conservation. With every rain we lose more top soil. This problem has been made worse with the construction of paved roads. The asphalt and concrete does not allow rain to soak into the ground the way it normally would, and dumps the runoff in places that it should not go. Artificial gullies are created from the runoff, carrying off many tons of soil and polluting our bays. Naturally the water stays in the guts, which have already lost all there topsoil, so erosion is much less. (If more information on how over development creates unnecessary erosion is wanted; let us know in the comments and we can do a blog specifically addressing that.)
With that being said, we need to conserve our precious Virgin Island top soil every chance we get. Terraces are one of the best ways. There is no shortage of stone, and no shortage of hillsides. The flat ground created by terraces benefits the islands in two ways. The first is that whatever water flows into the terrace will sit on top of the soil and have more time to soak into the ground. This is very helpful and on a larger scale, it has the potential to raise the water table down hill from the terraces. Adequate water is a huge obstacle to the vegetation in the Virgin Islands. The second reason this flat area is beneficial, is because the runoff carries the top soil with it, and when the water is trapped in the terrace, it deposits all the sediments and nutrients that it has carried down hill thus far.
The beauty of the Virgin Islands lies in our gorgeous forests, our pristine beaches, and the ruggedness of our mountain ranges. All of these things will benefit if we do everything in our power to keep the soil where it belongs. So, if you find erosion around your house take the time and build some terraces! If you are planning on building a house (Villa Owners listen up!) in the Virgin Islands; incorporate terraces into the landscaping! Even better build them downhill from you planned excavation site before you start digging! Silt fences are written into code; and help in the short term but are made of plastic and tear quite easily. I have seen endless silt fences that have been destroyed but never repaired; and after construction is done they are left in the bush to become trash.
Take pride in the beauty of the Virgin Islands. They are our home. Take care of them so our children's children can bask in their beauty. If you need further incentive to build terraces: it is a great way to be outside and get some exercise while partaking in a rewarding project!
Last but definitely not least have some fun!