St Helena: Trust wins grant to protect biodiversity


The St Helena National Trust has been awarded £300,000 by the Darwin Initiative for a new three year project that will help to protect the island's internationally important biodiversity.

The project will help St Helena to increase its capacity to conserve the natural environment, through developing expertise and training local conservation staff and school leavers through a conservation apprenticeship programme. 

St Helena has a unique range of plants, trees and invertebrates that occur nowhere else in the world. These endemics are under increasing threat from invasives and the loss of habitat, with species such as Bastard Gumwood and Boxwood on the brink of extinction.

The Peaks, St Helena by Andrew DarlowThe project will focus its practical activities on two important sites for biodiversity, the moist cloud forest of High Peak, and Blue Point Ridge, a dry land habitat. Both are proposed Protected Areas and the project will work towards restoration of these key habitats, including planting large numbers of native species. It will then ensure that the sites are properly managed in future.

National Trust Director Jamie Roberts says: "This funding is a real boost for St Helena’s natural environment. It recognises the island’s importance to global biodiversity, and will ensure that the successes of recent conservation initiatives such as the invasive species project and the Critical Species Recovery project are built upon."

The Peaks © Andrew Darlow

The National Trust will work principally in partnership with the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the RSPB.

Charles Darwin visited the island in 1836 and the project will use this to promote the island as a tourist destination to overseas visitors. The natural environment has a significant role to play in attracting visitors to St Helena, and this project will work with the Tourism Office to improve access and interpretation at the sites.

Related links:

St Helena National Trust newsletter January - March 2010

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