Overseas Territories meet at Kew

 

The UK's 14 Overseas Territories (OTs), spread around the globe, contain unique environmental wealth and are home to many species and environments found nowhere else in the world. Sound environmental management in the OTs is critically important since they host an estimated 90% of the biodiversity found within the UK and the Territories combined.

 

A key element in UK Government support for the OTs is the 2009 UK Overseas Territories Biodiversity Strategy, prepared by JNCC on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which recognised that the UK has a significant role to play in supporting the Territories as they develop evidence-based policies to protect and manage their biodiversity.  The Strategy stresses the importance of obtaining adequate baseline data and carrying out systematic ecosystem evaluations. It also highlights climate change and invasive alien species as critical threats to biodiversity in the OTs, which, since most are small islands, are particularly vulnerable. Sharing of expertise through regional and global collaboration between OTs, UK government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is also essential to enhance the capacity of these small states to meet their own and international biodiversity obligations.

 

Late last year JNCC collaborated with Defra to initiate a review of the Strategy, looking back at how effective it has been over the last three years and looking forward to the next three years to revise or reaffirm priorities. A JNCC-led consultation process with OTs, UK Government departments and relevant NGOs culminated in a one-day meeting in March, hosted by Kew Gardens, to work through priorities, roles and responsibilities for biodiversity conservation in the OTs. With representatives of ten OTs attending the Strategy review meeting, JNCC took the opportunity to host a two-day meeting of its own Training and Research Group which provides a unique forum for the OTs to meet, share experience and identify priority research areas of mutual interest. The meeting explored the key issues of climate change, invasive alien species and funding sources with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Kew and Defra briefing the group on current developments in these areas.

 

Impressed by the enthusiasm of the participants over the three days, JNCC Chair Peter Bridgewater commented: “One can judge the success of such meetings by the conversational buzz during coffee and lunch breaks.”  The buzz was clear evidence of the enthusiasm of participants for sharing experience and working together, but the meetings also had very tangible benefits. JNCC’s own work over the next two years will be determined by the needs of the Territories articulated at the Kew workshop. Over the coming months the Strategy itself will be reformulated on the basis of the discussions and consultations, and will provide the basis for closer working relationships between the OTs, UK government and NGOs in future years.

 

Contact File

 

Elizabeth Moore

Biodiversity Adviser

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866861

 

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