29 April 2022
All Ministers along with Councillor Ronald Coleman and members of the St Helena Research Council and the Cloud Forest Project Board visited the Peaks National Park on Thursday, 21 April 2022, to see and acknowledge the amazing works being undertaken under the Cloud Forest Project (funded by the CSSF Overseas Territories Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Programme).
Members met with the dedicated Environment, Natural Resources & Planning Portfolio’s (ENRP) conservation teams, led by Nursery Officer, Vanessa Thomas-Williams, and had the privilege of viewing the Endemic Plant Peaks Nursery, gene banks and recent restoration work that included work being undertaken near Taylors Hut. The teams spoke of some of the challenges they face, to include their never-ending ordeal with pests and diseases and the continuous effort made towards clearing invasive species, particularly the pheasant tail fern, which is now widespread in some areas and difficult to remove.
Members of the Cloud Forest Project Delivery Group were also on hand to talk about their respective work areas under the Cloud Forest Project. Cloud Forest Invertebrate Specialist from the Saint Helena National Trust, Liza Fowler, spoke about the invertebrates (endemic and invasive) that can be found at the Peaks National Park. She demonstrated one of her sampling methods using a sweep net to allow Members to examine the different types of invertebrates found in a particular area.
Technical Manager from Connect Saint Helena Ltd, Lawrence Muranganwa, spoke about the automatic weather station (equipment used by the Met Office) and mist and rain gauge (used to measure rain and mist of the Cloud Forest) and the important role this equipment plays in collecting essential data to inform now and into the future.
During the visit, Members were also able to see the excellent progress being made with the track improvement works at the Black Gate entrance to the Peaks National Park.
The visit concluded with a tour of the ENRP Endemic Plant Nursery at Scotland where Members were joined by Councillor Dr Corinda Essex and were shown the range of endemic species from both the wetland and dryland environments. Members also had the opportunity to view the new micropropagation lab where rare endangered ferns were growing on agar in small petri dishes, as well as the seed bank and how the endemic seeds are stored, for long-term conservation.
Councillor Ronald Coleman commented:
“I was impressed by the works been done within the Peaks National Park and was touched by the dedication of those who are carrying out these important work streams for now and future generations.”
Minister Christine Scipio concluded:
“The Peaks National Park is significant as it is the home for at least 250 unique species which holds over one sixth of the UK’s total endemic biodiversity. All staff are commended for their hard work, dedication and passion for safeguarding our valuable wildlife from extinction.”
#StHelena #DianasPeak #CloudForest #AltogetherGreener
29 April 2022