(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – Members of the Forestry Department with assistance from Fauna and Flora International (FFI) to scale the summit of Petite Piton to Survey the Elusive Pencil Cedar Plant.
The pencil cedar (Juniperus Barbadensis var barbadensis) is an elusive conifer. The last remaining stand in St. Lucia is found only on the very top of Petite Piton which is not easy to access. Two Professional cliff and tree climbers from the UK supported by Fauna and Flora International and Global Tree Campaign are assisting the Forestry Department in surveying the existing pencil cedar population. Adult trees will be tagged, locations photographed, GPS points taken and counts will be made. There will also be the collection of seeds, seedlings, branches and soil samples taken off Petite Piton.
The Forestry Department in collaboration with FFI aims to study and propagate this plant outside of its known habitat in the hope of preventing its extinction in St. Lucia. The pencil cedar is a Lesser Antillean endemic and is found only on Petite Piton in St Lucia and known to be extinct in Barbados. This plant is considered critically endangered and its population is in sharp decline.
Survey activities will be carried out throughout the course of this week with team members climbing the piton four days providing that there is no inclement weather. As stewards and custodians it is our duty to sustainably manage and where necessary, preserve our biodiversity and our heritage.