Ascension : ASCENSION ISLAND CONSERVATION DEPARTMENT
Submitted by The Islander (Conservation Office) 03.07.2014 (Article Archived on 17.07.2014)
I have recently joined the AIG Conservation team as a part of my youth training. I will be working with them for a total of nine weeks.
ASCENSION ISLAND CONSERVATION DEPARTMENT
Working with the Ascension Island Government Conservation Team
I have recently joined the AIG Conservation team as a part of my youth training. I will be working with them for a total of nine weeks. My first week has been an interesting one that has involved both working with animals, in particular seabirds, and helping to prepare and then plant endemic and endangered ferns.
One thing about Conservation I have learned is that no two days are the same, one day you can be out on the coast collecting nesting and population data of seabirds and the next you could be trying to plant an endangered species of fern in the pouring rain up at the Devil’s Ash-pit. I, myself have very much enjoyed this day-to-day variation as it helps to keep the job more exciting.
I got to attend a seminar/workshop which involved other conservation organisations from outside Ascension like from the Falklands and St. Helena, this gave me the opportunity to learn about the different methods of conservation that are being used as well as suggestions for the future. It also showed me the dedication of the conservationists from places like the Falklands as their ‘patch’ is a lot bigger than ours and so requires more effort to get around etc. but they still seem passionate about what they are doing and I admire their dedication and spirit.
In just a week I have been taught many things that have either surprised me or given me a headache. I have learned the various, and sometimes difficult and time consuming, ways to grow ferns. I have done a bit myself first hand and it can be both tedious and time consuming but if that plant grows then you know that you helped to add one to the population and can help overall to keep the species from going extinct. That is what a lot of their work is about. Ascension has seven species of endemic plant and a lot of these plants, which are only found on Ascension, are endangered. So quite a bit that I have done in my first week is helping to try and save these species, whether it be moving little ones in to bigger pots or cleaning out and fencing off an area where the bigger ones will be planted back into the wild in the future. But whilst I have been working a lot with these plants my first day was actually with the birds. I went to help with bird monitoring. This involved going to a location where nests had been marked previously and checking on the chicks whether they had grown, left the nest completely, had died or if there were any new nests to record. It is very physical work; a lot of these places where the birds nest have rough terrain around them so pose quite a challenge to get to. It’s not a quick job; you often have to walk around in the hot sun for hours. But it wouldn’t be any fun otherwise. It’s another one of those jobs that require a lot of patience and dedication but it isn’t hard to see that the people who do this really do love their job.
Although I have only been with AIG Conservation for a week I have seen and learned quite a lot, non-more than the dedication this group of people have and how much they really enjoy what they do. Also there is a lot more to Conservation than I originally thought. I was expecting hard work but the sheer amount of work that has to be put in for what seems to be a simple thing like it can take two years of TLC for a Ptisana purpurascens, the formally known Marrattia to grow a few inches. If this is blowing your mind imagine how I felt. Each one of them is doing a little something that could secure a future for some of Ascension’s most loved species and our endemics; I both respect and admire them for this.
Scott A Duncan, Youth Trainee Worker.
The Conservation Office in Georgetown is open from 7:30am – 10am on week days but due to fieldwork commitments, staff will only sporadically be in the office throughout the rest of the day. For the next 4 weeks we are unfortunately not open on Saturday mornings due to staff holiday. Please come in and see us if you are interested in finding out more about conservation work on Ascension or if you would like to purchase something from our shop!
Please contact us if you have any questions or would be interested in volunteering at Ascension Island Conservation Centre, Georgetown. Tel: 6359. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org