Feb. 23, 2004 The territory's baobab trees probably aren't something most residents think much about, but one visitor has made them an important part of his life.
Thomas Pakenham, the Earl of Longford, arrived on St. Croix Sunday from his family estate, Tullynally Castle in Ireland, for a four-day visit to the island's baobabs and a variety of other trees on St. John. Pakenham is currently writing a book on baobabs.
The visit was organized by UVI Associate Professor of Education Robert Nicholls, who spearheaded the "Remarkable Big Trees of the U.S. Virgin Islands" project, which located and measured some of the territory's finest trees.
The author of "Meetings with Remarkable Trees" and "Remarkable Big Trees of the World," Pakenham is also a member of the "Remarkable Big Trees" advisory board.
Interestingly, the earl has an age-old tie to St. Croix dating back to 1802, when his great-great-great uncle, Col. Edward Pakenham, received a ceremonial sword from St. Croix residents. Nicholls said it's unclear where the presentation took place but suggested that the colonel may have been St. Croix's governor.
"The years 1802 to 1804 were an interlude when the British were governing the Virgin Islands," Nicholls said.
The colonel died in the 1814-1815 Battle of New Orleans, where he led British forces in their fight against Andrew Jackson and his troops.
There is also an Estate Longford in St. Croix's rainforest, which will be one of Pakenham's stops on his tour of St. Croix. He'll also visit with ecologist Olasee Davis and the St. Croix Environmental Association's Carol Cramer-Burke, among others.
Nicholls said that St. Croix has more baobabs than any other Caribbean island.
There's also one on St. John, but Nicholls says he has yet to visit it.
Pakenham will visit St. John on Wednesday to view a photographic exhibit of the "Remarkable Big Trees" at Elaine I. Sprauve Library.
While in St. John, he'll also visit tree experts Gary Ray and Eleanor Gibney and view important trees in V.I. National Park.
He'll round out his visit with an appearance Wednesday on "Face to Face."
Nicholls said Pakenham arrived here from Florida, where he was looking at trees in Palm Beach.
"He's looking at what people do to preserve trees," Nicholls said.
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