Last month, the AIG Conservation Officer, Tara George travelled to St. Helena to help set up Seabird and turtle monitoring there. This was funded by the Overseas Territories Environment Programme, a joint Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Department for International Development (DFID) fund set up for environmental projects in the UK Overseas Territories.
There has been little long term study done on the turtles and seabirds of St. Helena, and this project hopes to help to fill this gap in knowledge. The two weeks that Tara spent on St. Helena were used to do preliminary surveys, explore relevant methods and initiate public awareness programmes.
The project is run by the St. Helena Government Agricultural and Natural Resources Department, and managed by Emma Bennett, the Marine Scientific Officer. Emma Bennett and Emma Fowler of the Fisheries Section, worked closely with Tara for the whole two weeks.
Work included boat trips around the island to do a population census of all cliff and offshore island nesting seabirds, walks to Gill Point to see and monitor the seabirds on Shore Island; to Great Stone top to see and monitor the trophies (Tropic birds) on the cliffs there.
An important part of the project is public awareness, and Emma Bennett already has various activities in place to keep the public informed about the various activities. During Tara’s stay on St. Helena, she was interviewed by the radio station, put an article in the St. Helena Herald, gave a presentation to Yr 11 students at Prince Andrew School, met with various stakeholders in the project, and encouraged volunteers to join in on the monitoring trips. These, plus other public awareness initiatives will continue throughout the two year duration of the project.
It is excellent that the sister islands are working together on various conservation and environmental initiatives thanks to both Governments for enabling this to happen. Hopefully this will set a precedent for future environmental projects.
To the St. Helena Government, the Ascension Island Government and OTEP for assisting with the progress of environmental knowledge and education on both islands.
If you would like to know the details of the project, please contact Tara George at the Conservation Centre (6359) e-mail email@example.com for a copy of the report.