Tuesday afternoon on May 31st saw the signing of the Wild Life and Protected Areas Ordinance for the Government of the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI).
This simple ceremony, which took place at Government House in Stanley, Falklands Islands was described by Martin Collins GSGSSI’s Chief Executive Officer, as “the culmination of much work by many people” and by the Commissioner for South Georgia, Mr. Nigel Haywood, as a necessary step in “an incredibly ambitious project to restore part of the earth to how it was before human intervention.”
The Ordinance signed on Tuesday underpins this effort and will allow GSGSSI to enact a variety of legislation to protect what Mr. Collins described as “one of the highest densities of wildlife on the planet” and to support efforts currently in hand to remove from the Islands some of the invasive species which threaten the continuing success of the native endemic flora and fauna.
Darren Christie, GSGSSI’s Environment Officer, explained that global warming is making South Georgia a less hostile environment for non-native species and also causing the melting of glaciers which up until now have confined invasive species like reindeer and rats to specific areas.
The Wildlife and Protected Areas Ordinance makes the import and release of non-native species illegal and also prohibits the transport of existing non-native species to new areas. The Ordinance also allows the GSGSSI to declare Specially Protected Areas (SPA) and Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in and around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
Specially Protected Areas will include places that are particularly susceptible to disturbance, especially those which include colonies of threatened species.
While large areas around South Georgia are already protected by strictly applied fisheries policies, none of this protection has hitherto been enshrined in law. Martin Collins emphasised that the ability to declare Marine Protection Areas would afford the unique marine environment of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, considerably greater protection.
The establishment of MPAs is also in accordance with a call made at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, for the establishment of a global chain of effectively managed and ecologically representative marine protected areas in the world’s oceans by 2012.
(Note: Government House in Stanley is also the seat of GSGSSI and the Governor of the Falklands, Mr. Nigel Haywood, is also the Commissioner for this British Overseas Territory, comprising two groups of islands situated in the South Atlantic, beginning some six hundred South East of the Falkland Islands and just outside of the Antarctic Circle.)
By SeAledPR - Stanley