The Public Entity Saba will intensify its reforestation efforts in the coming years with the planting of some 5,000 trees, including a large number of fruit trees.
The aim is to help boost the recovery process and expansion of the island’s forested areas. This reduces the land-based pressures of erosion and runoff that impact Saba’s coral reefs. Another goal of the project is to increase local food production by planting fruit trees.
Together with other initiatives such as the support for backyard farmers and traditional farmers, the reforestation project is another initiative of the Saba government aimed at increasing the availability of local, fresh produce, since many trees to be planted as part of this project will be fruit trees.
As part of the reforestation project, fruit parks will be created in each of the four villages. Additionally, fruit trees will continue to be planted as part of island beautification initiatives and to encourage backyard farming, fruit trees will be made available for households.
The Department of Agriculture has already been planting trees on the island for several years. One of the first areas was Cove Bay, where coconut trees were planted. To beautify and control soil erosion, pine trees were planted in the Hell’s Gate Gut area. In Windwardside, coconut, tamarind and flower trees were planted.
Most of the trees were planted along the Fort Bay Road and at the landfill. A combination of oleanders, coconut and sea grape trees were planted in those areas. The latest project was the planting of coconut and sea grape trees along the dirt road to the site of the new harbor at Black Rocks.
The removal of free-roaming goats has had a positive effect on the reforestation project and vegetation recovery in general. Before the goat control project started, all planted trees had to be fenced and regularly checked. Nevertheless, the survival rate of newly planted trees was only about 50-60%. Nowadays, new trees can be planted without protection. Over the past 6 months, around 50 trees have been planted. The survival rate so far is 100%.
In the coming years, reforestation efforts will strongly intensify, starting with an area assessment of the island to determine the most erosion-prone and vulnerable locations. Together with reforestation experts, the Public Entity Saba will draft an implementation plan to strengthen soil and vegetation in the erosion-prone, vulnerable locations by planting indigenous trees.
In order to increase local awareness of nature conservation and knowledge on vegetation recovery and fruit production, the project will have a strong focus on community engagement initiatives. The area assessment is scheduled to take place in the coming months, and intensification of tree cultivation and planting is to start mid-2023.