Restoring St Helena’s Internationally Important Cloud Forest for Water Security & Wildlife
About the project
The St Helena Cloud Forest Project is a highly collaborative project, and the ultimate aim of the management plan is to increase cloud forest habitat by 25% across five years. This would secure a habitat equating to a sixth of the UK’s endemic biodiversity and increase the water-supply up to a fifth on this aid-dependent island.
Project History and Importance
St Helena’s unique cloud forest (now 16 hectares) is secured and expanded, from the existing relict fragments of an ancient Cloud Forest (600 hectares), in the face of pressures from invasive species and climate change; securing a unique ecosystem that sustainably: supports the full range of St Helena’s native moist upland ecology and associated biodiversity and; supplies the island’s future water needs from enhanced mist capture by endemic vegetation and; generates essential soils for the retention and percolation of received precipitation.
|A step-change initiated in native species production, planting and invasive species management in the Peaks National Park to secure remaining cloud forest and to increase area and quality of cloud forest habitat|
|Water resources more clearly understood with priority areas for forest restoration identified to benefit water security and effective monitor-ing in place to develop understanding of impacts of cloud forest restoration on improvements in water capture.|
|Improved community and visitor engagement with the Peaks National Park|
This plan provides a framework to not just conserve native habitats and their communities of threatened endemic species, to control invasive species in conjunction with restoration of self-sustaining habitat and guide research priorities and training needs.
This plan outlines the complementary activities needed to protect and enhance the mist interception to increase rainfall recharge for water supply, soil-based water filtration & stream flow control, and mitigation to counter predicted negative impacts of climate change.
This plan will enhanced opportunities for stakeholder collaboration, responsible and sensitive public access, ensuring positive experiences for all visitors, education and, contributing to the growth of St Helena as a world-class tourism destination
Brief History of how our Cloudforest declined significantly.
As mentioned earlier, the cloud forests of 600 hectares, were stripped away to provide wood for biofuel and exports, and also to establish pasture grounds for livestock such as cattle. over the years, more of the cloud forest was cleared out to cultivate cinchona, imported in the 1860s, it was planted in-between tree fern thickets. cinchona had 4 alkaloids within the inner layers of its bark, one and most abundant of them; Quinine, which was used as an anti-malaria drug that saved many lives. The biggest seeds of destruction sown for our cloud forest was Flax. Introduced in the 1860s, the flax industry was incredibly successful during the year 1965 when 17.5% of the world’s flax production came from St Helena. Now Flax has been rendered useless for industry on the island and has spread slowly over the years, further decreasing the coverage of our native cloud forest over the years.
Canarvon Court, Education Learning Centre, Jamestown, St Helena
T. 00 (290) 22607