Community Forests

The Community Forests Project is funded through the Darwin Initiative from October 2013 to September 2016.

The Darwin Initiative funded “Creating Community Forests to Enhance Biodiversity and Provide Educational Activities” project started in October 2013 with the objectives to establish community forests at Blue Point, High Peak, and the Millennium Forest. The aim is for these sites to be financially and environmentally sustainable with strong community involvement to ensure their guardianship for generations to come. Key activities include registering the sites within a carbon sequestration project, establishing Forest Schools as an alternative education option for the island’s school children, delivering an NVQ Level 2 in Work-based Conservation Skills, establishing social enterprises in forest products such as charcoal production, honey, and timber crafts, and the restoration of natural habitats through the removal of non-native invasive species and the planting of more than 5,000 endemic plants.

For more information contact the Habitat Restoration Team. Why not sponsor a tree at one of the three community forests and leave a legacy to support the island’s natural heritage for generations to come.

High Peak

Located to the western edge of the central peaks at an elevation of 798 metres, High Peak is home to endemic flora and fauna species such as black cabbage, she cabbage, tree fern, dwarf jellico, redwood, black-scale fern, and the spiky yellow woodlouse. The habitat is cloud forest with threats from non-native invasive species such as New Zealand flax, arum lily, ginger, fuchsia, kikuyu grass, and feather moss. The area is buffeted by strong persistent winds with moisture laden mist creating a unique habitat which requires strong attributes to survive. Many species capture the moisture within the mist to gain enough water to grow. The introduction of New Zealand flax and its uncontrolled spread across the landscape since the closure of the flax milling industry has squeezed the remaining pockets of natural habitats to the brink of extinction. The National Trust has worked throughout this important habitat from the “Ginger Patch” to the west, over the peak itself, to “The Dell” to the east since 2010. Activities have included the ongoing weeding of arum lily, fuchsia, and ginger; the planting of endemics to turn the “Ginger Patch” into an outdoor “natural classroom” for all to learn from and appreciate; the creation and maintenance of access to the peak; rodent control; the protection of existing black cabbage and tree fern habitat and the creation of artificial canopies to enhance favourable conditions for target species; the collection of plant material, the propagation of endemic species, and the planting of endemics throughout the site. The National Trust’s efforts, in partnership with the Saint Helena Government’s (SHG) Environmental & Natural Resources Directorate (ENRD) and volunteers, continue to battle to protect and enhance the area. On a clear day, or when the cloud momentarily clears, panoramic vistas open up, allowing views of High Knoll Fort, South West Point, Sandy Bay, and the central peaks.

For more information contact the Habitat Restoration Team. Why not sponsor a tree at High Peak and leave a legacy to support the island’s natural heritage for generations to come.

Blue Point

Located towards the south-west corner of the island at an elevation of 573 metres, Blue Point is home to the last remaining wild Saint Helena Ebony trees in the world. Just five individual plants survive huddled against a sheer crumbling cliff approximately 50 metres below the exposed ridge. Wild populations of Saint Helena scrubwood, rosemary, hairgrass, small bellflower, cliff grass, plantain, old father live forever, and tea plant make up an ensemble of endemic species. The habitat is upland dryland with threats from non-native invasive species such as New Zealand flax, tungi, gorse, wild coffee, and creeper. The harsh weather conditions of strong prevailing winds with occasional sporadic heavy rainfall, combined with the historic clear felling of trees for firewood and timber, has led to the extensive erosion of topsoil. Add to this mix the introduction of rabbits, feral goats and sheep, and the natural ecosystems have been beaten into submission.

The National Trust have been developing habitat restoration techniques, in partnership with the Saint Helena Government (SHG), in an area covering over one square kilometre in size since securing funding from the Darwin Initiative in 2010. The majority of the endemic plants that have been planted out on site have been grown at the Trust’s Millennium Forest Tree Nursery, with each individual plant being carried over a kilometre out to site by staff, volunteers, and local apprentices. Thousands of plants have been lovingly planted across the hillsides and even down the cliffs via abseiling techniques, and it is hoped that through continued locally-led aftercare, these species will start to naturally regenerate and spread across the hillsides.

Spectacular views across the southern part of the island include Lot’s Wife, Sandy Bay, and South West Point. Bird species such as the wirebird, masked boobies, and fairy terns can be seen flying overhead.

For more information contact the Habitat Restoration Team. Why not sponsor a tree at Blue Point and leave a legacy to support the island’s natural heritage for generations to come.

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