A year on Green Mountain
Matt Stritch, assistant park warden
The last year has seen a vast improvement to the path network of the Green Mountain National Park. As the island’s only National Park it is vital that this area is properly cared for and maintained year round to allow visitors to enjoy its unique environment. By employing multiple methods and a variety of tools, the historic paths are now readily accessible to walkers again. Thanks to generous donations by the Blue Marine Foundation the correct tools and equipment have now been purchased to help this ongoing work.
From a vast tangled mess the paths have slowly come under control with a scheduled clearing timetable now put in place. Another addition to the paths is a series of direction boards marking the start and end points of the trails. A mix of toughened glass and wooden signs have been placed around the mountain to help guide walkers.
To go along with the newly cleared path system the unsafe section of the boardwalk up to the Dew Pond has been replaced. The rest of the boardwalk is expected to be completed throughout 2018. With thanks again to Blue Marine Foundation, supplies and equipment were brought to the Island and instead of a boardwalk, a step system has been put in place. By using specially processed accoya wood the new boardwalk should withstand all the mountain can throw at it. By using volcanic clinker, which can be readily sourced from the island, it is hoped the steps will stand the test of time and be enjoyed by all for years to come.
The steps could not have been completed in the timeframe that they were without the help of the AIG roads team. Special thanks goes to Kevin and Marty who took dumper truck after dumper truck of clinker as far as they could while at the same time landscaping the lower sections of the path to allow vehicle access. Sections of the old boardwalk have been reused further down the mountain to create a walkway under a muddy ficus tree.
Halfway up the Dew Pond path, before reaching the new steps, a large cloud forest restoration site has been created. By planting a variety of trees such as Cape Yew, Ficus and White Olive which can withstand the varied weather near the summit, this extends the cloud forest habitat for our important the endemic moss fern (Stenogrammitis ascensionensis) and other bryophytes to grow on. This is a long term restoration site and should continue into the next century and beyond. It will be a few years before the trees reach a suitable height to connect populations. Once they reach a suitable height the trees will connect populations of moss fern and bryophytes higher up the mountain to those lower down allowing the species to spread with ease.
The Queen Elizabeth II gardens has had a blitz with ground cover vegetation being cut down and a path through the centre which branches off to the numerous trees planted by people on the island. An umbrella canopy has been created by removing the lower branches of the trees which opens up the gardens even more. On a sunny day you can now sit at one of the benches and enjoy the views while being sheltered from the wind by the ginger walls. The small path at the back of the gardens has also been opened up to allow access down to Bishops path.
Looking forward to later in 2018, we have created interpretation boards which will hopefully be arriving shortly and have many other projects underway to improve visitor access and enjoyment of the mountain, whilst also conserving vital flora and invertebrate populations.