On a small Island St Helena has a small population with just over 4213. In recent years the population has reduced as most ‘Saints’ have migrated to the UK or have gone to work on the Falklands, Ascension Island and Germany where the job opportunities have traditionally been better than those on island. The airport construction is now changing that, with many Saints returning for new employment opportunities that the airport construction has brought. ‘Saints’ are mainly descendents from European planters, Chinese workers, and slaves from Madagascar, Asia and Africa. ‘Saints’ are known for their friendliness and hospitable nature. The diversity of the Saint population is reflected in their cuisine from spicy goat meat curry, tuna fish cakes, chicken pilau to tasty pumpkin pudding and coconut fingers.
The St Helena National Trust is responsible for the protection, enhancement and promotion of the Island’s natural and built heritage. These include restoring the Island’s fragile Gumwood forests, conserving the endemic Wirebird, promoting the protection of the historic buildings and fortifications, and to educate and train local people.
With the Island’s airport currently under construction, the only regular access to and from St Helena is via the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena, one of only two ocean-going vessels in the world still carrying the title of Royal Mail Ship. The RMS as she is known to ‘Saints’, travels between St Helena, Ascension Island and Cape Town. It is currently the Island’s lifeline, carrying passengers to and from the Island as well as transporting goods and supplies.
In November 2011, St Helena Government signed a Design, Build and Operate (DBO) contract with Basil Read (Pty) Ltd. For the design and construction of a St Helena Airport, the amount of £201.5 million was given by the UK government. And an additional amount of up to £10 million on shared risk contingency and £35.1 million for ten years of operation. The project aims to provide air services to St Helena, fulfilling the UK Government’s commitment to maintaining access to the island, and at the same time providing St Helena with a real opportunity for economic growth through tourism. Both the St Helena Government and the UK Government hopes that this will lead to eventual financial self-sustainability for the Island.
The Access Office is the functional link between the Airport Project and the St Helena Government and other key stakeholders.
With a sub-tropical climate, St Helena’s environment is one of fascinating flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the Island. Its natural landscape of lush green peaks and breathtaking rock formations, to grassy plains and sub-tropical valleys changes dramatically, making it a photographer’s heaven. The St Helena Government is committed to conserving this environment and in 2012 created an Environmental Management Directorate (EMD). The EMD focuses on policy and legislation, communication and stakeholder engagement, evidence-based advice, assessment, monitoring, evaluation and enforcement. Its focus will be to mainstream environment and climate change within St Helena Government and to excel in world class environmental protection. As part of this process, some applications for development are subject to Environmental Impact Assessments as per the Land Planning and Development Control Ordinance.
Our aim is to provide you with information on developments at “Home” so that you are kept in the loop with changes that are taking place here on St Helena and the effect such changes may have on Island life. With the construction of an airport St Helena is developing rapidly and we encourage you to read on to the St Helena Ambassador articles or www.sainthelena.gov.sh