The Daily News, Friday, March 1, 1996
Native trees must be preserved from extinction
Before people inhbid the Vir-
gin Ilds, die isands were covered
wihvirgin frostSummanm d riv
flowed to the om cuMo ay.
Like il biogeochetical cycles,
the water cycle i powered by er-
gy from these. Water vapor ters
at aumosphc through evaporation
frm bodies of water and from soil
and though rnspiranin from the
This water vapor in the cool
reaches of the atmosphere cCmdetS-
es to form clouds. When water
droplets become heavy, they leave
the atmosphere and return to the
Earth as rain. And so the Virgin
Islands forest environment was
enriched by the aunal process of
Abeou4,000 yeas ago. ladisan
migrated from South Ameria and
sealed in these ihld Smallm ae
Wbh Columbus waived in the
140s, he islands isill wre heavily
forced. This wt mainly because
the Ildias live in relative bmaniey
with their environment and their
tools limited thd in declaring large
For 150 years following Cohnm.
bs'landing at Salt River. tee wa
no real effot by Eropens to seale
the Virgin Islands.
Taus, the forest rminedL From
the 1500 to 1550 Spanirh inmi-
grants engaged in several cam-
paigns apinst the at people.
By 1587, ie Sp.ih forced the
Idians from S Croix. From 1641
to he 7I0m the English. Duch and
Frech destroyed some of d foea
enviroineC of theVirBgin Ii
As a manr of fact, the French
were blamed for burning down
soe of the forest a S. Croix. In
1733. Danish West Indies and
Guinea Co. purchased St. Croix
from Rance. During the sugr cne
ma, large forests reas wer cleared
for sgaPr cutivation This was
a major insut on the forest ecosys-
tem of theislnds.
The purchase of the Virgin
Islands in 1917 was the biggest
insult t1 the forest in these islands.
This is due to the rapid ubanization
and other man-made environment
where many native tree species
were threauaed or in some cases
A native tree is a plant that
evolved ceturies ago in a localized
cotmmmniy envirmanent and is sub-
je to environamencatse diionm.
Also. written history, cultural
history, edmoboaical associions
of the riginl inhlbints and the
srvivnl of virgin fCoesI cotitles
what is a native te.
To understand the history of
native trees, one mot understand
the geological history of te islans
to explain curet ree distribution.
SL Croix is a smll island. but t
is full of contests in topography
and vegetaion distribution. George
A. Seaman said St. Croix is divided
roughly into three categones. He
staed: "From west to ast we have
a long ece coast backed by some
genlly rolling country ending nto
rugged hills and light rain forces."
The middle of S. Croix. he said.
"... prises genly sloping ler-
ain ending in grassy plains drop-
ping to the sa. A narrow spine of
hills cradles much of this heartland
SSeeOLASM lng page
Book is practical, easy to understand
to the north. The narrow Eat End
of this cotl-shaped island is com-
prised mostly of jumbld ull cov-
ered with thorn shrub and many
species of cacti ..."
Thus. one will find native rees
growing in different parts of St.
Croix became of soil type, topogra-
phy and the distribution of rain.
However, native plants are becom-
ing rare due to the rapid develop-
ment of the islands. The question is.
how can we save native trees from
Recently. a book was published
- "Native Tees For Community"
- in he ope of making island res-
idents aware of the importance of
landscaping with native trees
The book. wrinen by Keneth D.
Jones, hoticultral curator for the
St George Village Botanical Gar-
den of St. Croix. is an excellent
guidebook of some 50 native tees.
The book talks about site selec-
don for trees on your property. The
first step is to determine whether
you are using trees for shade, wind-
break. barrier, farming or Just croat-
ing an entrance lano your driveway.
Planting. pruning, fertilizing.
watering, staking and pest control
of native trees also are mentioned in
The book talks about the growth
habits of trees. their economic and
medical uses. conservation needs
and the natural distribution of
native ree on St. Croix. This book
is for everyone because ft Is a prac-
tical and easy-to-understand guide
to landscaping with native tre.
When we plant native rees, we
are also saving ourselves from
exdncton. This book is available at
Trader Bob's Dockside Bookstore
in Gallows Bay. St. George Village
Botanical Gaiden and the St. Croix
Olasee Davis, who holds o mas-
ter of science degree in range man-
agement and forestry ecology, is a
St. Croix ecologist. activist and