There is still an opportunity to volunteer with the Trust’s Community Forests project. Do you want to help restore the island’s unique daisy-tree forests and rescue many beautiful plants and insects from the brink of extinction? We would expect you to commit for a minimum of a month, four days a week, in return for richly rewarding conservation work in spectacular locations with highly endangered trees and plants. As part of the deal we also offer excellent, high quality accommodation in a newly refurbished residence in Jamestown.
You would need to have a certain level of physical fitness as many of the sites are quite demanding, although there could be the option of less strenuous work as an assistant in the plant nursery. You would need to be able to cope with being a long way from loved ones and have a capacity to get stuck-in and work as a team. We would commit to providing clear instruction, all the necessary safety equipment, travel to and from work sites, a sensitivity to your needs and stamina, and a wide variety of tasks. And hopefully some fun! Tasks will include seed collecting and sowing, compost making, potting on, planting out, watering, weeding, invasive plant clearance, monitoring, surveying, working with the local community and schools, public volunteer days, fencing, step building and path maintenance.
There are also other possible volunteering opportunities with the Wirebird team, Buglife, the historic building conservation team and adventures in wild places with the government’s seabird monitoring programme.
Getting to the island is not cheap, either from Cape Town or from the UK via Ascension Island, and there is no air service(yet!). Return fares from Cape Town on the RMS St Helena start at about £900 and it takes 5 days each way, and a one-way fare flying to Ascension followed by the RMS will cost about £1200 and take several days depending on how long your transit is in Ascension. Unfortunately there are no funds to cover either this or subsistence costs. Accommodation is included and you would stay at ‘Cole’s Courtyard’, a beautifully restored historic space based around an open courtyard in the heart of town.
There are an abundance of things to do in your free time, from spectacular walks, world-class diving, sports fishing, colourful local culture and much more. There is much work on the island that is desperately needed for the conservation of St Helena’s glorious and highly endangered endemic plants, insects and birds.
Kathryn Jackson was a Long Term Volunteer with the Trust in 2013:
The two plants I can see through my binoculars on a ledge part way down the cliff where I stand are the last remaining wild specimens of St Helena Ebony. To be part of a project working to restore a habitat based on the cultivated progeny of these plants, along with other rare and fascinating endemic species is a pretty special experience. Looking up from my binoculars I can see the ridge where today we’ve fenced off areas to keep the rabbits off newly planted trees and beyond that green peaks and steep cliffs and, of course, the ocean. Being thousands of miles from anywhere else heightens the specialness of this place and the desire to keep it special. Walking back to the trailhead (the load substantially lighter without all the fencing material we carried up the hill this morning) there is a real sense of contributing to something important. It’s the same most days, even when progress feels miniscule and hard won against huge odds.
Made unique by its remoteness an opportunity to spend time on St Helena is not one to let pass by. I spent four months working with the St Helena National Trust and have no hesitation rating it amongst the wisest moves I have ever made. As well as the ecological interest, the natural beauty and the variety and interest of the work, I met a whole host of fantastic people who taught me lots, welcomed me wholeheartedly into island life and who remain good friends.
For more information about volunteering please contact Cynthia Llas, Community Forest Project Coordinator:
Tel: (00290) 22224