The Central Peaks, Diana’s Peak, Mount Actaeon and Cuckold’s Point, together with other locations above 600m have been the subject of some valuable research into the Island’s endemic flora and fauna. The predominant environment on the Peaks is cloud forest with frequent high humidity. This prevailing habitat provides the environment for many rare endemic invertebrates, ferns and mosses.
A report recently published research* cited 393 invertebrate species which have been recorded on the Central Peaks, 217 of which exist only in St Helena. These 217 endemic species represent more than half of the total number of species across the whole Island and can only be found in St Helena.
Work on conserving and preserving invertebrates and their habitats on the Central Peaks also includes reviewing the legal protection afforded to the natural environment, pursuing the adoption of National Protected Areas and extending the boundaries of the Diana’s Peak National Park.
Building on the current resident skills and knowledge base is another important priority as is provision of an adequate administrative structure to support the wide range of sustained activity required to ensure the Island’s endemic species can survive the growing threat from invasive vegetation and the domination of flax over large areas of the Peaks.
The small changes that can occur in some of the Island’s many micro-climates also require monitoring. The change can affect several endemic species dependant upon a particular climatic characteristic. In such instances it can be possible to compensate for the effect of the change and encourage the affected species to survive.
The culmination of the OTEP** funded Protected Area Planning Project for the Central Peaks is to get all these parts of the conservation jigsaw into place.
Having achieved that, the real test is establishing an adequate and permanent workforce with the skills and knowledge equal to task of conserving the natural environment on the Central Peaks on an enduring basis.
* – Invertebrates of the Central Peaks and Peak Dale, St Helena – Howard Mendel, Philip Ashmole, Myrtle Ashmole