The Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund (Darwin Plus) was launched last year by the UK Government, with the aim of helping to deliver long-term strategic outcomes for the natural environment in the UK’s Overseas Territories.
The second round of 2013 bidding was recently completed and St Helena was very successful, with five bids awarded:
- St Helena Baseline Assessment of Physical Environmental Parameters
- Taxonomic and Conservation Status of Oceanodroma Storm Petrels in the South Atlantic
- Securing St Helena’s Rare Cloud Forest Trees and Associated Invertebrates
- Conservation of the Spiky Yellow Woodlouse and Black Cabbage Tree Woodland
- Darwin Fellowship – MRes Carbon Sequestration in Community Forests
The St Helena Baseline Assessment (awarded £96,700) will provide a foundation for effective environmental management through gathering baseline information of physical parameters to allow the assessment of change on St Helena, including the impact of the new airport and associated economic activity.
The Taxonomic and Conservation Status of Oceanodroma Storm Petrels in the South Atlantic aims to clarify whether storm petrels nesting on St Helena and Ascension Island are the same species that occurs elsewhere in the Atlantic, or whether they constitute one or more species to new science. The project, awarded £43,430, will survey all known colonies and re-assess their IUCN conservation status.
Securing St Helena’s Rare Cloud Forest Trees and Associated Invertebrates was awarded a sum of £98,380. This will be used to secure the existence of four endangered and critically endangered keystone endemic tree species and their associated invertebrate fauna in the Peaks National Park.
The project entitled Conservation of the Spiky Yellow Woodlouse and Black Cabbage Tree Woodland was granted to the St Helena Nature Conservation Group. The £37,090 grant will be used to stabilise and restore a further hectare of woodland, enhancing populations of several very rare endemic ferns and invertebrates. A captive breeding programme will safeguard the last few spiky yellow woodlice, whilst detailed biodiversity surveys will inform longer term management.
The MRes study (£21,617) will investigate carbon sequestration of selected endemic tree species, in order to provide a scientific basis to register a carbon off-setting scheme. This will provide information on the carbon sequestration potential of schemes on St Helena and, in turn, will also allow calculations of current and future carbon capacity of restoration sites on the Island.
The projects will be delivered by a variety of partners, including: the Environment Management Division of St Helena Government; St Helena National Trust; St Helena Nature Conservation Group; Buglife; RSPB; the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Queens University, Ontario, Canada.
Ben Sansom, Head of SHG’s Environmental Management Division, said:
“St Helena was awarded funding for 5 projects out of a total of 15 OT projects which were selected for funding this year. This is a great result and testament to the collaborative bidding and delivery of nature conservation projects on the Island. Our next challenge is to ensure that the skills and knowledge gained through delivering these projects are retained on Island, so we can ensure the long term protection of our unique environment.”
Chris Hillman, Director of the St Helena National Trust, added:
“Given the stiff competition this year and with only two million pounds to cover the 14 OTs, St Helena has done extremely well this year. The five successful projects will provide further information in support of conservation initiatives and needs on the Island. What is most needed now is support for trained Saints to plan and carry out the conservation management on the ground for the long term.”
The Darwin Plus fund brings together two existing UK Government funding mechanisms: the DfID/FCO-funded Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP); and OT-related elements of the Defra/DfID-funded Darwin Initiative (including the Challenge Fund). This new consolidated fund aims to provide a simpler and more coordinated mechanism to support UK Overseas Territories’ natural environment issues by acting as a one-stop-shop source of funding.
3 December 2013