Commindendrum rotundifolium, the Bastard Gumwood, was native to Saint Helena, but there are no longer any that survive in the wild. One was discovered in the wild in the 80s, but it has since been destroyed in a gale. The Royal Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh contain the only living specimens of this tree. While propagation research is being conducted in the hopes of reintroducing the species, it doesn’t look very promising.
Bastard Gumwood isn’t the only species in trouble on St. Helena. Due to invasive, non-native species introduced by us, St. Helena is actually famous for its high number of extinctions. Just look at what’s happening to the bird species:
Of the 22 species of bird known to have nested regularly on the island since its discovery in 1502, seven species confined to the island have become globally extinct including: two seabirds, a dove, a cuckoo, a hoopoe and two moorhen-like birds. A further five seabirds now no longer nest on the island, but still nest on other islands in the Atlantic. Of the remaining ten species of bird, only one land bird remains: the St Helena plover, known locally as the wirebird. This plover is listed as Critically Endangered, meaning the bird is facing an extremely high risk of extinction.
Because of us, Saint Helena has already lost many of her species and many others are facing the risk of extinction. Plants and animals closer to home are also in trouble. By protecting our wilderness areas, we can give many of them a much better chance of survival. Extraction industries – like mining and logging – are constantly lobbying for permission to operate on our public lands. Write to your senators and urge them to reinforce the protections on our wilderness.