Continuing the theme of celebrating the Darwin Initiative’s 25th Anniversary (see our last blog!), this latest blog shares two articles from our most recent newsletter, both looking at the work the Darwin Initiative has supported in the Falkland Islands.
Darwin funding was awarded to a Falklands based project in 1993, the very first year of funding, delivered by the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum. Since then, Darwin has consistently supported diverse conservation projects in the Falkland Islands resulting in a wide range of benefits and outcomes. The following articles from our newsletter, prepared by Falklands Conservation and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute respectively, highlight but a few of the Darwin supported Falklands projects over the years.
Darwin delivers in the Falklands thanks to Falklands Conservation
With eight Darwin Initiative projects awarded to Falklands Conservation (FC) alone over the last thirteen years, the contribution of the Initiative to delivering environmental research, practical conservation and biodiversity policy development in the Falklands cannot be underestimated. FC is a small conservation charity based in the Falklands, partnering with the local and international community to conserve the Falkland Islands natural environment. External funding is essential to the delivery of its organisational objectives. FC’s Darwin projects have discovered new species to science, delivered Species Actions Plans, built local capacity, educated and trained the local community, changed national policy, and much more besides.
The benefits continue today, well beyond the life of each Darwin Initiative project. Following native seed trials, and habitat restoration technique development delivered through Darwin Initiative projects, FC now has a Habitat Restoration Officer working with landowners on restoration projects tackling habitat loss in the Islands. New records and even new species to science are still being identified two years after samples of mosses, liverworts and lichens were collected through FC’s ‘Lower Plants’ project. The Falkland Islands National Herbarium at FC now houses lower plants specimens which can be accessed for research and educational purposes.
Darwin Initiative funded projects aimed at understanding Falklands’ raptor populations and landowner issues have led to updated population estimates and Species Action Plans for raptors of conservation concern, and influenced Government policy development on control measures. After a Darwin Initiative funded Biodiversity Action Planning project, National Biodiversity policy was aligned with delivering CBD targets and strategies are still being developed to provide more focussed and effective conservation action. These are just a few examples of how much Darwin Initiative has, and continues to deliver in the Falkland Islands!
Marine Spatial Planning in the Falkland Islands
Around three years ago, the Falkland Islands took a massive step forward in terms of marine planning when a Darwin-Plus funded project commenced. The two year project titled ‘Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) for the Falkland Islands’, and led by the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI), and supported by the Falklands Islands Government (FIG), developed a framework for the implementation of MSP along with a suite of associated tools to support MSP.
MSP is a practical, stakeholder driven, science-based approach to organising the marine environment and the interactions between its users. It strives to balance the demands for development with the need to protect the marine environment and to achieve social and economic objectives.
Following this pioneering work in the South Atlantic, Falkland Islands Government were keen to maintain the momentum generated, and directed SAERI to undertake a short, follow-on project. There were four goals to this subsequent project:
- maintain and update the suite of MSP tools;
- undertake an assessment of fishing closure areas within the Falkland Islands;
- undertake a review to identify legislative gaps for future MSP implementation; and
- develop a long-term strategy for MSP implementation in the Falkland Islands.
The project is progressing well and is due to finish in 2017.
The story of how far marine spatial planning has come in the Falkland Islands is a real testament to the importance of the Darwin Initiative, and really demonstrates how a single Darwin-Plus project has led to a sea of change in the management of the Falklands marine environment.
For more articles celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Darwin Initiative, please see our newsletter.