Statia, Saba join hands in reforestation project

Sharing knowledge and collaboration in the European Union (EU)-funded reforestation project was the pri­mary focus when ReLeaf Saba officers Jethro van ‘t Hul and Luke Hassell, joined by Saba Conservation Foundation director Kai Wulf, went on a trip to St Eustatius, where they met with Refor­eStatia project manager Adam Mitchell and rangers Bea Zampieri and Simone Erroi.

The reforestation project conducted its first exchange exercise be­tween ReLeaf Saba and ReforeStatia June 4-7, with tours of the current out-planting sites and potential sites that need protection from erosion, or are in need of a replenished tree cover.

ReLeaf Saba Reforestation officer Jethro van ‘t Hul (left) and ReforeStatia project manager Adam Mitchell planting a sapling.

Funded by the EU to the tune of 737,165 euros, this Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity Programme RE­SEMB1D is designed to enhance the ability of the national parks foundations in Statia and Saba and the islands’ public entities to improve the protection and restoration of the shoreline and other ecologically important areas through reforestation, which is to im­prove ecosystem services, biodiversity and the economic resilience of the two islands.

One of the objectives of this initiative is to enhance knowledge and skills of reforestation staff at the nature management organisa­tions and the public entities of St Eustatius and Saba.

The sites toured included Zeelandia, Corre Corre, the vicinity of ED. Roosevelt Airport and Miriam C. Schmidt Botanical Garden. They also visited the ReforeStatia Nursery, which is the main site for the project, to view the irrigation system, pest control methods, two initiated food forests, the composting and liquid fertiliser ar­rangement, as well as the pond and solar system.

Celbees Bee Farm was visited to observe the process of farming bees. This is the first step in developing beekeeping on Saba, which is another objective of the project. The increase in pollinators on the island will also boost the forests’ ability to recover from hur­ricanes and other stressors.

Next, ReLeaf Saba and ReforeStatia revisited the Zeelandia and airport out-planting sites to share techniques on irrigation, wind protection, biodiversity surveys and the use of an app to tag plants. They also conducted maintenance on the site before starting air-layering tree branches. Air-layering is a method used to generate roots from the branches of mature trees to produce a sapling that can reproduce and bear fruit in the following year, instead of wait­ing five to 10 years. This is useful for the creation of both food and general forests.

An early start on the third day allowed for a visit to Gilboa in Boven National Park for seed collection. The exchange was wrapped up with presentations on data, mapping, outreach and communica­tion of the project with the community and other stakeholders. “The team at ReforeStatia has been working diligently to ensure the success of their project. Their shared knowledge will help cre­ate a foundation for us to also make ReLeaf Saba a success,” said ReLeaf Saba Reforestation officer Van ‘t Hul.

The reforestation projects on Saba and Statia aim to protect ma­rine ecosystems and the industries that rely on them, reducing sedi­ment run-off into the sea by reforesting critical coastal areas.

St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation STENAPA and Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) conduct this project in partner­ship with RESEMBID, financed by the EU and implemented by Expertise France, the development cooperation agency of the French government, which supports sustainable human develop­ment efforts in 12 Caribbean overseas countries and territories (OCTs), including Aruba, Anguilla, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, Sta­tia, St. Barths and St. Maarten.

The Daily Herald.

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