Supporting Critical Species Recovery and Horticultural Needs on St Helena - Project completed (2008-10)
Building capacity in horticulture and species recovery on St Helena to enable developments that promote best practice and provide the best survival options for St Helena’s unique and fragile endemic plant species and their remaining habitats.
Photo: Colin Clubbe
This Project was executed at a critical time for St. Helena’s endemic species and unique habitats. These have been under pressure for centuries from over-exploitation and land-use change, and from the continuing onslaught of alien invasive species. The widespread occurrence of many well-established alien plant invasives constitutes the greatest threat to St Helena’s remaining fragile habitat fragments and their unique species. Many of these species have been reduced to such small population sizes that active ex situ interventions are now vital.
The integration of ex situ facilities and in situ management activities were at the heart of the success of this programme. Strategic long-term planning, guided by Species Recovery Plans and Protected Area Plans, are vital for the survival of St Helena’s unique flora.
An essential element of the project was improvements to the nurseries of the Environmental Conservation Section of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department (ANRD) and technical training for conservation and horticulture staff. ANRD manages two nurseries, one at their headquarters in Scotland, a mid-elevation location on St Helena and a second smaller one at the Peaks National Park at higher elevation. The nursery facilities were up-graded with the assistance of specialist Kew horticulture staff. Kew staff also provided horticulture training in St Helena, as well as helping to guide developments in species recovery planning and providing general conservation support.
Main Project Outputs:
- Two improved Nurseries and a Nursery Management System introduced that provides a management tool for producing plants for re-introduction into the wild as part of the Species Recovery Programme for St Helena’s threatened flora and habitats
- Improved technical capacity within the nurseries team in the Scotland and Peaks Nurseries
- A Growing Guide has been produced which is a comprehensive guide to collecting, growing and re-introducing the endemic and key native species of St Helena
- A significant increase in the number of endemic species in cultivation and part of re-introduction programmes
- The development of local seed banking facilities, training in seed collection techniques and introduction of a regular seed collecting programme which remains on-going. Twenty-seven of the 45 species endemic to St Helena have been collected and banked at the Millennium Seed Bank
- Increased local awareness of St Helena’s unique biodiversity and the threats it faces through regular radio interviews, newspaper articles, talks and visits to the ANRD nurseries
- Fieldwork undertaken during the project lead to the re-discovery of the previously thought extinct sedge, Bulbostylis neglecta, last seen in the wild in the 1880s
- The success of this project contributed to securing a Darwin Initiative funded project to help restore two of St Helena’s most threatened habitats.
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
Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP) - Project No. STH501
Clubbe, C. & Hamilton, M., & Corcoran, M. (2010). Using the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation to Guide Conservation Implementation in the UK Overseas Territories. Kew Bulletin 65: 509-717.
Conference papers and reports
Clubbe, C., Hamilton, M. & Corcoran, M. (2010). The role of native species nurseries in mitigating threats from invasive species: case studies from UK Overseas Territories Proceedings of the 4th Global Botanic Gardens Congress, June 2010.
Corcoran, M., Hamilton, M. & Clubbe, C. (2010). Developing horticulture protocols for threatened plants from the UK Overseas Territories. Proceedings of the 4th Global Botanic Gardens Congress, June 2010.
Malan, L. J. and Herian, K. (2010). Growing Guide for St Helena's Endemic Plants