The Millennium Forest is one of the most ecologically important places to see on St Helena Island, with its varied species of endemic plants mainly the Gumwood. It was opened on August 2000, and covers more than 38 hectares. Today there has been over 10,000 trees planted mainly by islanders; however it is a popular tourist attraction for the Island. The main goal is to recreate the Great Wood that was once on the site before it was destroyed by settlers and invasive species.
The forest still faces many threats such as lack of water lack of soil and invasive species e.g. poison peach, flax and Rabbits. They cause a lack of natural regeneration and mortality rate of existing trees. Under management of the National Trust invasive vegetation clearance and rabbit trapping has been carried out, including the fencing of selected natural regeneration areas.
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) awarded the Millennium Forest the 2010 Blue Turtle Award for nature conservation work undertaken by an individual or group of individuals from an overseas Territory or Crown Dependency, who have made a valuable contribution in their territory or dependency. The project needed to demonstrate innovation and to have made a real difference. It has also been proposed as a new National Conservation Area.
‘The Footprints Project’ was set up in partnership with the Tourism Department and Enterprise St Helena; this is where wooden footprints were painted based on the act of “reducing your carbon footprint”. Most of them were completed by school children and you can see these works of art by following the footprints to a viewing platform overlooking the construction of the Airport. Also a Kid’s Adventure Nature Trail was opened at the forest on 22nd October 2012, where children could explore and interact with their natural surroundings, from which they gain a fun, exciting, educational experience.
The Millennium Forest relies heavily on voluntary tree sponsorship and donations, most sponsored trees are to the memory of loved ones; mark an anniversary or special event. Personalised plaques and benches can be arranged by the SHNT on request. Through making a sponsorship or donation you will be helping the environment and save a threatened endemic species from becoming extinct, including having a lasting reminder of that special memory.