Authors: Michael B. Thomas
Citation: How to Cite: Thomas, M.B. 2019. Trees for St. Croix Project Checklist. St. George Village Botanical Garden, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. http://www.biodiversitydata.net/, accessed yyyy-mm-dd.
Locality: St. Croix, US Virgin Islands
Abstract: In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria did great damage to trees and plants in the United States Virgin Islands. Most trees were twisted in place, torn out completely, or stood tall but were devoid of any leaves. In the days and weeks following the destructive rages of hurricanes Irma and Maria, the people of the Virgin Islands toiled to restore normalcy, focusing on water, power, and communication. But today something remains different on the landscape. The storms' Category 5 winds uprooted thousands of trees and vast swaths of vegetation across the islands, and now many months later, while the USVI has regained much of its former landscape, the islands are less green than before. Beyond simple aesthetics, this deforestation has disrupted a delicate ecosystem and left the islands vulnerable to other ecological disasters such as soil erosion, loss of food security, and biodiversity decline. A new Trees for St. Croix project aims to provide assistance to reforesting St. Croix. Created in conjunction with the Arbor Day Foundation, the University of the Virgin Islands, this campaign aims to rally the local population.
For many years, it has become increasingly apparent to botanical and horticultural professionals that there is a pressing need for greater emphasis concerning the native tree replanting on St. Croix. Since the clearing of the island's forests for sugar cane production over two centuries ago, many of the once abundant native species have faded from public awareness. Today, when land areas undergo residential or commercial development, all too often the native trees are removed and replaced with introduced ornamental species such as red frangipani or hibiscus. These imported plants are established primarily because many local residents and developers are not sufficiently familiar with the beauty, diversity, and potential uses of our own native species. In addition, local dooryard fruit trees such as avocado and citrus (orange, lime, lemon) tree populations have declined following the hurricanes. We propose the introduction of 25 grafted fruit tree varieties to reestablish trees lost in the hurricanes. These 'mother' trees will serve as a long-term investment and the future source for future clonal propagation. An increased awareness, and the resultant replanting of native tree species, has several important implications for the future. First, individuals and community groups planting, maintaining, and preserving their own trees develop sensitivity toward important conservation issues. Secondly, by enlarging the numbers of the native species in community settings, a safeguard will be provided against their local extinction due to loss of habitat or natural disasters. Thirdly, emphasizing the uniqueness and utility of our natural vegetation may help curb the island's continuing tendency to become simply a landscaped replica of the Southeastern United States' urban areas.
Link to Website: http://www.sgvbg.org/trees4STX
Notes: Funded through a generous grant by the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands - www.cfvi.net
Species: 64 (species rank)
Total Taxa: 64 (including subsp. and var.)
Cigar Box Cedar
Citrus X aurantiifolia
Silver Thatch Palm
Musa X paradisiaca
Puerto Rican Royal Palm
Puerto Rican Hat Palm
West Indian Boxwood
Pink Trumpet Tree
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