Bare hillside

Thursday 25th November 2021, 5.40pm (day 3,745)

Bare hillside, 25/11/21

Until the 1500s St Helena was covered in forest. Then humanity arrived, and even if people didn’t cut down the trees themselves, they released goats onto the island, which munched away at any new shoots for the subsequent half-millennium. Although some recovery has been made recently, in places, a lot of the lower parts of the island look like this as a result. It’s attractive, in its way, but it’s also dead land. Only about 21% of the island is cultivated with another 11% afforested. 54% is classed as ‘barren’. Two years ago today I was in Java, another steep volcanic island; but one festooned with terraces, every inch used to support the population. The contrast is notable.

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