This morning we drive out to Deadwood Plain, the site of one of the largest Boer camps on island. From 1900-1902, St Helena was selected to host nearly 6,000 Boer prisoners of war. Many of these were based in large encampments on Deadwood Plain, although once they were established many were given jobs around the island, with some of them even moving in with the locals to act as servants and maids!
Deadwood Plain is also the main habitat of the island's only endemic land bird, the St Helena Plover, or 'Wirebird' as it is known locally. Prior to human occupation St Helena was home to 9 endemic birds, but since goats and other outsiders were brought to the island, many of the endemic plants and wildlife were wiped out, with the endangered Wirebird the only unique land species left. We drive across the plain where there will be a very good chance of spotting the bird with the help of our National Trust guide.
During the late 18th and early 19th Century, St Helena became a site for a series of conservational experimentation, with extensive reforestation of endemic plants, and attempts were made to boost rainfall artificially. This intervention has been closely linked with establishing the roots of environmentalism, and this afternoon we visit Millennium Forest, where trees are being planted to re-establish an ancient forest. Here, we join the cause and have the opportunity to plant a tree of our own, personally helping to revive St Helena's ancient forests.
After lunch we visit High Knoll Fort, the largest military installation on St Helena, and at 584 metres it is a prominent feature as you travel around the island. The fort is substantial in size with wells, living quarters, stables and of course, a number of gun emplacements. Ironically, the fort never had the chance to fulfil its purpose as since its construction St Helena was never invaded. Aside from housing some of the more unruly Boer War prisoners, it has remained unused, acting only as a deterrent, and now, a place of interest.