A Falklands Conservation project has identified the Falklands Islands’ inshore waters as globally recognized Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) for breeding seabirds, driving forward their aim for quality marine management practices in the Islands.
The inshore waters of the Falkland Islands are important breeding grounds for numerous seabird populations, however, these are coming under increasing pressure from climate change and the potential threats of environmentally unsustainable development.
The work hopes to support the development of quality marine management practices in the Islands and could support the Falklands in achieving its commitments under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) 2020.
Funded by Darwin Plus, the project identified nine seabird species that qualified for KBA status: black-browed albatross, slender-billed prion, southern giant petrel, gentoo penguin, southern rockhopper penguin, brown skua, dolphin gull, the endemic Falklands steamer duck, and sooty shearwater.
Sites within the KBA which were noted as of particular importance were the rich waters around the Jason Islands, New Island, Bird Island and Saunders Island due to their higher diversity of seabird species. Due to its key populations of albatross and rockhopper penguin, the remote and near pristine Beauchêne Island was designated for the first time as a KBA.
These designations for seabirds come a year after Falkland inshore waters were designated as a Key Biodiversity Area for the endangered sei whale - the first such achievement in the world for sei whales. Falklands Conservation would like to thank all partners, supporters and stakeholders in this project including, RSPB, BirdLife International, data holders and Paulo Catry and Sally Poncet, and for support from the Environmental Studies Budget from Falkland Islands Government.
Emma Harte, Marine Conservation Officer at Falklands Conservation, said: “With these new designations, combined with last years’ sei whale KBA, the Falkland Islands has an opportunity to be at the forefront of marine management practices. Our inshore waters are incredibly important for their biodiversity - that much is clear - but with further globally recognised standards the Falklands’ would ensure their international credibility and a future that is both environmentally and economically sustainable. At FC, we look forward to continuing our work engaging with government and the community to ensure these KBAs are recognized when developing wider national plans for the marine environment -tourism development and sustainable marine management.”
Rachel Cooper, Head of Environment at the Falkland Islands Government Environment Department, said: “It’s great to see our amazing biodiversity recognized on the international stage and reflects all of the hard work that has gone into this project. Understanding areas of importance for seabird species and how they use different parts of our marine environment helps us better plan for and manage our biodiversity for current and future generations.”