Increasing Local Capacity to Conserve St Helena's Threatened Native Biodiversity
To halt biodiversity loss in the species-rich High Peak and Blue Point areas on St Helena through increasing local capacity to deliver practical habitat restoration and management
Photo: Colin Clubbe
St Helena holds a rich and globally unique biological heritage, which includes over 400 known endemic species. Flagship species include the ancient endemic arborescent Asteraceae. Centuries of exploitation and land-use change have left the island’s native ecosystems severely degraded. A large proportion of the island’s flora and fauna is now on the brink of extinction, surviving in isolated remnant habitats which are facing significant ongoing threats, particularly rapid encroachment by invasive species and increasing erosion.
Of the 45 endemic higher plant species which have been assessed, 40% are categorised as Critically Endangered; the St Helena olive (Nesiota eliptica) became globally extinct in November 2003.
Tiny remnant habitats in the Peaks area are known to support an abundant endemic plant and invertebrate diversity. Both these and the equally remarkable remnants of St Helena’s dryland habitats are deteriorating rapidly as invasive species outcompete them or predate upon them. The principal constraint to reversing the decline of key habitats is a shortage of skilled personnel on-island able to undertake sustained practical conservation interventions. This is manifested in an inability to adequately tackle pressing threats, particularly the negative impacts of invasive species. Current conservation activities are often ad hoc and inadequate, reacting to immediate problems rather than working with a concerted, well-resourced ecosystem approach to invasives control and native habitat reinstatement.
Major Project Activities and intended outcomes:
- Document the biodiversity of two highly threatened habitats within the High Peak complex (upland cloud forest) and Blue Point (dryland habitat) areas. Data collated on the biodiversity of these areas, and the positive management structures put in place during the project, will support and progress their designation as new Protected Areas.
- Develop and implement a restoration plan for these two sites
- Establish a conservation apprenticeship programme, including a new NVQ, which will ensure that skills needs are addressed long-term
- Continue capacity improvements at St Helena’s three endemic plant nurseries to maintain plant production (range of species and numbers) to successfully meet the restoration programme.
- Provide improved interpretation at High Peak complex and Blue Point to provide an enhanced asset for St Helena’s developing tourism sector.
- Maintain seed collecting and related ex situ activities in support of species recovery plans
- Increase education, awareness and public engagement in the conservation of St Helena’s natural resources
Project Leader: Clubbe, Colin P.
Conservation, Living Collections and Estates
Colin Clubbe, Martin Hamilton, Marcella Corcoran, Nick Johnson, James Beattie
Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives
Project Partners and Collaborators
Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, Government of St Helena
St Helena National Trust
St Helena Nature Conservation Group
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
The Darwin Initiative - Project No. 18-020