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Over £8m boost for international conservation in UK Overseas Territories

Saturday, June 5th 2021 - 09:51 UTC
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One of the projects refers to threatened albatross species in the southern Atlantic OTs, Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Photo: Stephanie Winnard One of the projects refers to threatened albatross species in the southern Atlantic OTs, Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Photo: Stephanie Winnard
Minister Lord Goldsmith said that “WED provides us all with a stark reminder of why we need to take urgent action to reverse global biodiversity loss” Minister Lord Goldsmith said that “WED provides us all with a stark reminder of why we need to take urgent action to reverse global biodiversity loss”

Over £8 million new funding to protect rare wildlife and vulnerable habitats across the globe. Threatened species such as whales, marine turtles and sharks will be better-protected thanks to a boost of over £8 million for projects in the UK Overseas Territories, the British government announced on Saturday 5 June under plans to tackle the global biodiversity crisis.

The funding will also help protect a number of rare species and vulnerable habitats across the globe from the threats from invasive species. Over the next three years, 31 projects will receive £8.02 million through the Darwin Plus scheme for conservation of the unique and globally significant environments found in UK Overseas Territories.

Habitats and species set to benefit from funding include:

Threatened albatross species in the southern Atlantic overseas territories, Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, through improved population monitoring;

A number of species found in Cayman’s Sister Islands will be safeguarded from invasive species such as feral cats and invasive green iguanas;

Anguilla’s shark populations, through increasing knowledge of their habitats and conservation needs, while developing local ownership of their conservation through greater community engagement;

The Ascension Islands’ marine turtles through making improvements to their monitoring program using innovative modeling techniques and new labor-saving technologies;

Coral reefs in the Indian Ocean by helping small-scale fishers to sustainably manage these habitats on the island of Diego Garcia

International Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith said that “World Environment Day provides us all with a stark reminder of why we need to take urgent action to reverse global biodiversity loss.

”The Darwin Plus funding announced today will support the magnificent biodiversity hotspots that make up our Overseas Territories, which are so threatened by climate change. It will restore precious ecosystems, prevent the extinction of some of the world’s most wonderful species, and at the same time transform the lives of the poorest communities.

“Over the last decade the Darwin Plus program has supported over 120 individual projects supporting conservation in marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments. The UK government, as president of the G7 and COP26, is leading the way globally in the fight to tackle climate change and repair the natural world”.

Professor E.J. Milner Gulland, Oxford University and Chair of the Darwin Expert Committee and Darwin Plus Advisory Group, pointed out that “UK’s Overseas Territories are home to some of our most iconic and important threatened biodiversity, as well as rich and productive natural resources. The Darwin Plus projects span the range of biodiversity from wetlands to whales, and addresses issues from controlling invasive thorns to tracking threatened turtles. So I’m really happy that, on World Environment Day, the Darwin Plus fund is supporting the Overseas Territories to conserve their precious biodiversity while also building a sustainable future for people and nature”.

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of the RSPB commenting on the milestone added that “the UK Government has an important role to play as we all work to revive our world, the UK’s Overseas Territories are home to 94% of the plants and animals that are only found on UK soil. But these amazing places are under threat from the nature and climate emergencies.

”Failing to act in our Territories would raise the real risk of global extinctions, so this vital funding will help fulfill our responsibilities to protect our precious wildlife, from tropical rainforests in the Caribbean to wind-swept albatross islands in the Southern Ocean. Today’s announcement, plus the UK Government’s additional £1.5m contribution to support our major partnership project to restore Gough Island, a threatened UK World Heritage Site in the South Atlantic recognized as one of the most important seabird islands in the world, will be welcome news to the local community and many individuals who continue to support this vital work.

“Last month, the Climate and Environment ministers of G& committed to halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity by 2030.. In efforts to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, all G7 members also signed up to the global ‘30x30’ initiative to conserve or protect at least 30% of the world’s land and at least 30% of the world’s ocean by 2030, as well as committing to ‘30x30’ nationally.

”The funding being announced today builds on the £220 million for biodiversity conservation in developing nations, and the doubling of UK international climate finance, announced by the Prime Minister at the UN General Assembly in 2019.”

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