Oranjestad, St. Eustatius – Knowledge sharing and collaboration was the primary focus when ReLeaf Saba Officers, Jethro van’t Hul and Luke Hassell were joined by the Saba Conservation Foundation Director Kai Wulf on a trip to St. Eustatius where they met with the ReforeStatia team members Project Manager, Adam Mitchell, and Rangers Bea Zampieri and Simoné Erroi.
The Reforestation Project conducted its first exchange exercise between ReLeaf Saba and ReforeStatia from the 4th to the 7th of June 2023 where both teams started off the exchange with tours of the current out-planting sites and potential sites that need protection from erosion and/or replenished tree cover.
Funded by the EU to the tune of €737,165, this Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity Programme (RESEMBID) supported project is designed to enhance St. Eustatius and Saba National Parks Foundations and Public Entities’ ability to improve the protection and restoration of the shoreline and other ecologically important areas through reforestation which will improve the ecosystem services, biodiversity, and economic resilience of the islands.
One of the objectives of this unique initiative is to enhance the knowledge and skill capacity of reforestation staff at the nature management organizations of St. Eustatius and Saba as well as the public entity of Saba.
The sites which were toured by the joint teams included Zeelandia, Corre Corre, around the airport and the 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, composting and liquid fertilizer arrangement as well as the pond and solar system.
The group also visited Celbees Bee Farm to observe the process of farming bees. This is the first step in developing beekeeping on Saba, which is another objective of this project. The increase in pollinators on the island will also boost the ability of forests to recover from hurricanes and other stressors.
Next, ReLeaf Saba and ReforeStatia revisited the Zeelandia and airport outplanting sites to share techniques on irrigation, protecting against the wind, monitoring by conducting biodiversity surveys and using of an app to tag the plants. They also conducted maintenance on the site before starting air-layering branches of trees. ‘Air-layering’ is a method used to generate roots from the branches of mature trees to produce a ‘sapling’ that can reproduce/bear fruit in the following year instead of waiting five-10 years. This is useful for the creation of both food forests and general forests.
An early start on the third day allowed the team to visit Gilboa in the Boven National Park for seed collection. They wrapped up the exchange with two presentations on data and mapping as well as 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.” Jethro, ReLeaf Saba Reforestation Officer.
This reforestation project on Saba and St. Eustatius aims to protect marine ecosystems and the industries that rely on them, reducing sediment runoff into the sea by reforesting critical coastal areas.
The St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA) and the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) conduct this project in partnership with RESEMBID; financed by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France.
RESEMBID is a 47-project progamme funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France – the development cooperation agency of the Government of France and supports sustainable human development efforts in 12 Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) – Aruba, Anguilla, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Montserrat, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Saint Barthélemy, Sint Maarten and Turks and Caicos.