Help: Planning land on a tropical island with a magnificent view but soil erosion is a problem

Discussion in 'Put Your Questions to the Experts!' started by TinyVillage, Feb 13, 2017.

  1. TinyVillage

    TinyVillage New Member

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    Hi guys,

    picture album of the land here: https://imgur.com/a/rBmce

    We're currently in the process of collecting all the needed documents to buy this piece of land. The price is USD $80,000 for 5 acres or 2 hectars.

    Big selling point of this land is 306 degree view (ocean view in the north and south, mountain and sunset view, sunrise behind a mountain top). Public road access, electricity and fast internet connection since the cellphone towers are approx in a 500m distance.

    Challanges currently:

    • Soil erosion. See pictures.
    • Water supply. There is a water pipe on the land already, but the pressure is very low and only running for a couple of hours a day. We're looking into drilling a well.

    Text from the picture: "2 hectars (5 acres) of former single crop corn land. Most plants and trees have been removed and the soil was exposed to the elements (sun, heavy rains and winds) for many years. The soil on most parts of the land is rocky. I suspect all layers of soil have been washed away, parent material in most parts visible. Flat parts or with a small degree of slopes show some vegetation (trees and bushes)."

    My plan initially was to build a small residential house with the nice view on top of the hill and start with livestock and Tilapia aquaculture. If possible some banana circles with greywater from the house. But at this stage I'm having doubts, since there could be no fertile soil left and the land to build Banana Circles. Composting is an option, but since the land is almost empty it could be hard gatherin organic materials to compost. Talking to neighbors, restaurants and market places for organic waste is an option, too.

    To fix the soil erosion longterm I'd setup swales / terraces and banana circles in the slopes.

    Would you buy this land for permaculture purposes? Are the challanges realistic to fix? Thank you so much for your help, guys.
     
  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Hello Tinyvillage and welcome,
    Looks challenging, yes. Worth it? Well, nature will reclaim that property/bare limestone on its own, given time. You can speed up that process by succession planting hardy/pioneer groundcovers to begin rebuilding the soil layers. There are some mighty steep slopes (45 degrees!) to contend with ... terracing is more appropriate than swales at those angles, with forest being the ultimate goal to build your sponge, prevent erosion, and re-establish the watershed.
    In observing the local area, are there any pioneer species plants that begin the colonizing process over the limestone? From what I saw in the Marshall Islands, tropical soil biology is very active and composting will take place directly on the ground without building compost piles. Would this be your observation there?
    I'm always up to a good challenge, so in my humble opinion, go for it!
     
  3. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i would not build a house on top of a hill in any area with
    the chance of significant storms. not unless it was built
    with hurricane/typhoon force weather in mind or some sort
    of rather intense protections...

    as for land protection and erosion. while you want to encourage
    any growth to keep topsoil in place you can also do the stone
    lines and add materials to those to help encourage anything
    that does by chance try to move to be captured before it gets
    very far.

    a hard thing in any tropical area is to keep organic material
    from breaking down quickly. leave it in larger chunks if you
    don't need it for some other specific purpose. termites and
    other soil critters will do the honors along with the heat and
    moisture.

    for smaller areas like your zone 1 gardens you may even end
    up bringing in topsoil.
     

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