Further Observations on the Importance of planting Trees at St. Helena.
THE importance of introducing, on this island, extensive plantations of trees, for the purposes of timber and fuel, has been so frequently brought to the notice of the landholders, through the medium of the St. Helena Register, that it seemed scarcely requisite to add any thing more upon this subject ; particularly as a spirit for planting has been evinced, which may lead to great improvements, and prove highly beneficial to the present, as well as future generations.
Lately, however, I met with a paper upon Mr. Curwen's plantations. It is indeed truly applicable to the circumstances of this island ; and as it contains the result of experience, and the opinions of a respectable individual who has very largely engaged in the improvement of his estates by "making plantations on many indifferent mountain pasture lands," I am inclined to think this communication will attract attention.
The account of Mr. Curwen's plantations is peculiarly calculated to confirm that laudable spirit which has been awakened, to stimulate exertion, and to impress on the minds of those, who may entertain doubts as to the advantages of converting some of their hill lands into plantations, that "no speculation can hold out a more flattering prospect."
But, the prospect here is far more promising than that inferred by Mr. Curwen. Let any one examine, and duly consider the deductions which have been given in the Register for July, 1811, P. 17 ; let him compare the facts on which those deductions are founded—let him look at those trees, the growth of which has been recorded—and he will, I trust, find the reasoning incontrovertible : besides, in regard to the trees that have been noticed, of twenty-six years growth, it is proper here to observe, that there is not one that has been treated as it ought to have been : they have all been placed too much asunder, and thereby deprived of the advantage of sheltering each other, and of being drawn up into straight timber. Their stems have been denuded of their branches to the height of 18 or 20 feet ; the soil in which they grow has been thereby too much exposed to the sun's rays, and from these causes there cannot be a doubt they have received a considerable check. Had they been planted and treated according to Mr. Miller, there is good reason to believe they would succeed better : but taking them as they are, they are now valuable, both for timber and fuel.
Mr. Curwen estimates his trees at sixty years growth, and their value at three hundred pounds per acre. The estimate I have taken is at twenty years only ; and the value (at this island price of timber and fuel) exceeds ten times that sum. What a vast encouragement is this to a speculation which is generally admitted in England to be one of the most profitable, in which a landholder can engage
When it is considered also that a single individual (Mr. Johnes of Havod) has formed the resolution of planting one million of trees annually, ought not this to stimulate the united efforts of the seventy landholders of St. Helena ? Who might assuredly, with ease accomplish one tenth of this number every year. If such a resolution were adopted by them, it would, in the course of a few years render St. Helena abundant in fuel ; and in twenty years, or less, there would be a sufficient quantity of timber for all the various purposes required in buildings and at the farms
The object of plantations is indeed so important in every point of view, the certainty of success on this island, so clearly established on the basis of facts, and the advantageous consequences that would be felt by the Lords Proprietors, as well as individuals, so very great that it deserves the most serious attention, and in my opinion, ought to call forth every possible exertion, both public and private (for some years to come) in order to restore wood to this long neglected and denuded spot