Forum n e w s 21

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F O R U M   N E W S  21

The Convention on Biological Diversity

(CBD) has become an important instrument

for promoting conservation, sustainable use

and benefit sharing.  Stressing the need for

inventory and monitoring of biodiversity at

a local, national and international scale, the

CBD  has  catalysed  much  activity  in

biodiversity documentation throughout the UK Overseas Territories.

Many Territories are actively developing checklists of key taxa,

documenting threats to biodiversity, developing management plans

and  promoting


education.    All

these  have  been

key  elements  of



Initiative project

in  BVI  that  will

be  completed  in

February  2002.

The  benefits  of

identifying  key

taxa  and  regular

monitoring have

recently  been

h i g h l i g h t e d

during  a  routine

visit  to  Gorda

Peak National Park (GPNP) on Virgin Gorda,


Earlier workshop activities during the three and

a half-year Darwin project identified several plant

species of international conservation significance,

including  BVI  endemics  and  several  Puerto

Rican bank species threatened across the region.

Two  species  of  particular  importance  were

highlighted  during  project  fieldwork.

Zanthoxylum  thomasianum  (Rutaceae)  and

Calyptranthes kiaerskovii (Myrtaceae) are both

large woody shrubs/small trees of the forest

understory.  C. kiaerskovii is a BVI endemic

documented during the Darwin project and

comprising only 36 individuals in GPNP.  No seedlings were

discovered.  Z. thomasianum, a Puerto Rican bank endemic and

known  from  about  300  individuals,  is  on  the  US  Federal

Endangered Species list.  Three adults and one seedling were

discovered in GPNP during earlier fieldwork representing the

only occurrence of this species in the BVI.  A routine monitoring

programme for these species was established.

During a routine monitoring visit to GPNP at the end of November

2001, both species were discovered in fruit.  For Z. thomasianum,

this represented the first documented fruiting in BVI.  We now know

that two of the adults are female.  The third known tree had no

flowers  on  it.    Because  we  have  one  young

seedling, the third known tree must be male, or

there are more trees to be discovered.  The mystery

continues.  Although we documented the first

known  flowering  of  C.  kiaerskovii  during  an

earlier  workshop,  only  few  fruits  were  seen.

However, many trees were laden with fruit in

November 2001 indicating how unpredictable

fruiting can be and highlighting how much we

still don’t know about the phenology of tropical

trees; another reason for routine monitoring.

Fruits  were  collected  of  both  species  and

brought to the JR O’Neal Botanic Garden in

Tortola.    We  hope  to  get  both  species  into

cultivation and use them initially as part of an

educational display of endemic and threatened

species of BVI being developed

at  the  botanic

garden.    In  the

longer  term  this

will form part of



c o n s e r v a t i o n

strategy for these

species  being

developed by BVI

National  Parks

Trust  and  the

Royal  Botanic

Gardens Kew.

Threatened Species Flower in British Virgin Islands

F O R U M   N E W S  21

Colin Clubbe handing over samples of Calyptranthes

kiaerskovii to Tracey Omar, Curator and Arona Dewindt,

Head Gardener, at the JR O’Neal Botanic Garden.

Colin Clubbe,

Raymond Walker,

Fruiting tree of Calyptranthes kiaerskovii in Gorda

Peak National Park.




 FEBRUARY 2002        •       •        ISSN 1361 - 6358


Foreign Office Minister Baroness Amos and senior representatives

of  Overseas Territories  signed  a  set  of  Environmental  Charters  on

26 September 2001. The Charters set out, for the first time the mutual

responsibilities  of  the  UK  and  Overseas  Territories  regarding  the

environment. For background on the Charter process please see the

Forum  website:

  -  also  to  view  an  example  of  the

Charter and both Government and Territory commitments. Speaking

in  advance  of  the  signing  ceremony,  Baroness Amos  said:  “The

adoption of this Environment Charter by the UK and the Overseas

Territories is a powerful indication of the importance we attach to

the environment both locally and globally.  It represents our shared

commitment  to  working  together  for  the  future  health  of  our

environment. The document is a real achievement because not only

does it set out the principles, which will guide us, but also it contains

some  real  long-term  commitments  which  will  make  a  practical

difference to our environment. The environment, after all, is critical

to future prosperity, well-being, and even survival, of many of the

Overseas Territories and their communities.  Both global and local

actions are needed.  This document shows how we can all contribute.”

The Charter sets out ten Guiding Principles (listed in text box) which

express  the  key  environmental  commitments  that  the  international

community  has  adopted.  The  UK  government  has  recognised  the

circumstances  of  each  OT  vary  considerably  from  those  with  no

resident population (eg SGSSI), very small populations (eg Pitcairn)

to those with bigger populations and a wider range of local resources

and skills.  Some already have groupings that bring together a variety

of stakeholders in the main local environmental issues.  It is for each

territory to establish the most suitable framework to develop action

plans that link the shared principles of the OT Environment Charter

to the needs of each territory.

The  Forum  is  pleased  that  the  Environmental  Charters  have  been

signed, and looks forward to the actions which will be necessary if

these are to result in real environmental progress on the ground which

will be the test of success of the process. The Forum has promoted

this  partnership  approach  since  it  first  raised  the

issue several years ago (see Ecos in Forum website for background).

Environment Charter for the UK and the Overseas Territories

Guiding Principles


To recognise that all people need a healthy

environment for their well being and

livelihoods and that all can help to conserve and

sustain it.


To use our natural resources wisely, being fair

to present and future generations.


To identify environmental opportunities, cost

and risks in all policies and strategies.


To seek expert advice and consult openly with

interested parties on decisions affecting the



To aim for solutions which benefit both the

environment and development


To contribute towards the protection and

improvement of the global environment


To restore and safeguard native species and

habitats, and control or eradicate invasive



To encourage activities and technologies that

benefit the environment


To control pollution, with the polluter paying

for prevention or remedies.


To study and celebrate our environment

heritage as a treasure to share with our children.

In October 2001, Colin Clubbe from RBG, Kew and Sara Cross of UK

Overseas Territories Conservation Forum visited Montserrat to collabo-

rate with the Montserrat National Trust in the development of a Darwin

Initiative project. This involved working collaboratively with the Trust

and other sectors of Montserrat society to integrate a range of informa-

tion and objectives identified during two previous visits in 2001 into the

project framework. The proposal is entitled  “Forest conservation,

sustainable management and education: building Montserrat’s capacity”

Its objectives are:

To assist Montserrat in protecting biodiversity by training key

personnel to assess status and distribution of forest flora.

To enable the conservation and sustainable management of

forest ecosystems in northern Montserrat.

Training of key staff and volunteers to translate the

biodiversity information gathered into accessible forms for a

wide range of users.

To develop a management plan and mechanisms for long

term monitoring of key forest ecosystems.

To increase the capacity and skills base of the island to sustain

biodiversity conservation and ecotourism in the longer term.

If the project is funded, the MNT will be able to recruit a Conservation

Officer for three years. The forestry department will also be heavily

involved in the work, which will be integrated with the physical

planning, lands and surveys and education departments. The Montserrat

National Trust will also be able to address the resurrection of key

environmental committees through the work being carried out. The

project will also complement the work currently being undertaken by

RSPB on the endemic Montserrat Oriole

Sara Cross, Director for Development UKOTCF,

Colin Clubbe, RGB Kew,

New Proposal  Project for Montserrat

We were pleased that UK Government took up many of these ideas in

its 1999 White Paper on the Overseas Territories. As to implementation,

the Forum has long recognised that many Overseas Territories have

underlined the need for facilitation in carrying the issue forward. It

has been asked by Government to explore the needs and possibilities

for this with the Territories although, sadly, resources for this have

not yet been forthcoming. The implementation of the charter cannot

be  done  simply  by  setting  deadlines  in  London  for  already  over-

stretched personnel in the Territories. It is a process which takes time

and resources. The Forum hopes that the signing of the charters will

lead to the increased funding to help meet these needs.

Congratulations to Dr Barbara Erica Gibbs who has an MBE

for services to the environment and the community,

Montserrat.  Apart from many other contributions to the

Montserrat community associated with her medical

profession, Erica has given a tremendous amount of her time

and support to the Montserrat National Trust since its

establishment in 1970, and serves as Executive Secretary on

its Management Council.

Congratulations also to Rudolph Agnew, knighted in the

same list for services to international human rights and

conservation. Sir Rudolph is Chairman of WCMC 2000

which underpins the operations of Forum member

organisation UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

New Year Honours


Montserrat National Trust held its AGM on 5 December 2001 and

produced its first Annual Report since 1995. Stephen Macnamara, MNT

Director said, “the growth of the Trust in the past 2 years has been

recognized as being unique in the 30 year history of the Trust by

members and sponsors alike. I think the Trust still has a lot to do, but

the past two years were a great start.” AOB included discussions about

where the Trust could be even more active in Environmental Awareness.

 It was clear to all that attended that the Trust is active again and

meeting the challenges.

Stephen Macnamara, MNT Director,

New  Zealand  conservation  consultant

Derek  Brown  looks  at  the  current  rat

eradication projects in the Falklands.

You don’t have to be mad for this, but it

helps. Why else would someone willingly

live  in  a  tent  on  a  tussac  island  in  the

cold,  with  only  sea-lions  and  rats  for

company? It must all be for a very good

cause, I keep telling myself. And it will

be - if successful in eradicating rats from

the  few  islands  selected,  there  will  be

significant  conservation  benefits.

Rat  eradication  was  developed  in  New

Zealand in the mid 1980s. Since then it

has been used successfully on over 100

islands world-wide Ascension Island, as

an  example,  is  one  of  the  next  islands

being  considered  for  rat  eradication.

Large  islands  have  successfully  been

done,  with  the  largest  being  11,300

hectare Campbell Island.

It  is  almost  certain  that  rats  got  to

islands  in  the  Falklands  by  ‘human-

assisted’ means, either hitching a ride

on  boats  (particularly  with  sealers  or

whalers),  or  from  shipwrecks.  They

may  even  have  been  cast  adrift  on

whale  carcasses  after  processing,

washed up on the tides, rats included,

on nearby islands.

Removing introduced pests has become

a major focus of conservation agencies

in  New  Zealand,  creating  pest-free

sanctuaries for wildlife. Many species

simply cannot cope with rats. A similar

situation  occurs  in  the  Falklands,

though  thankfully  not  as  serious  -  no

species  are  in  imminent  danger  of

extinction  through  predation.  However,

many  species  are  restricted  to  rat-free

islands remaining. The Cobb’s or house

wren and smaller seabirds such as storm

petrels are found only on islands free of

the  large  Norway  rat,  the  species  most

commonly found in the Falklands. Other

Restoring Tussac Islands in the South Atlantic

birds  such  as  the  tussacbird  and  sooty

shearwater survive in very low numbers

on rat islands.

Eradication is very different to rat control

measures employed around towns. It can

occur  only  where  re-invasion  by

swimming  rats  is  not  possible,  and  is

limited to islands offshore. It requires a

different  ‘mind-set’  to  focus  on  killing

not  just  one  or  two  problem  rats,  but

every  last  rat  in  the  population.  Key

information  is  necessary  for  success  -

firstly, the best time of year to apply the

poison,  and  how  much  bait  to  use.

Secondly, use a bait irresistible to rats and

such  a  bait  has  been  developed  in  New

Zealand. Thirdly, bait needs to be spread

systematically  over  the  entire  island,

ensuring it is available to every rat. Lastly

we  rely  on  an  intriguing  aspect  of  rat

behaviour  -  they  seem  to  share

information about food resources - once

one  rat  feeds  on  the  bait  others  are  far

more  willing  to  accept  it.  It  is  a

straightforward technique, but there are

potential  pitfalls  and  problems  to  be

cautious of. If one mistake is made then

all the time and effort will be for nothing

as the surviving rats will repopulate and

be harder to fool next time. It is important

these first few island rat eradications are

successful otherwise interest and funding

sources could dry up.

We are experimenting with two different

techniques here - one involves using bait

stations set out in a grid system over the

whole  island,  and  the  bait  stations  get

refilled  every  day  until  the  rats  are  all

gone.  The  other  method,  ‘hand-

broadcasting’,  involves  walking

predetermined  routes

over the whole island,




measured  amount  of

bait every few metres

until  the  entire  island

is covered.

There  is  a  small

chance  of  accidental

poisoning  but  so  far

we  have  not  detected

any negative effects in



Fortunately  most  rats

die  in  underground

burrows, making them

inaccessible. The baits

are also dyed a blue or

green  colour,  which

most  birds  don’t

recognise  as  a  ‘food’

colour. If such ‘non-target effects’ occur

they are likely to be very temporary, with

populations  rapidly  expanding  after  rat

removal. From a pragmatic conservation

viewpoint the loss of a few birds may be

‘acceptable’  if  the  overall  population

benefits in the long term.

By carefully observing what happens in

this project we can refine the techniques

for  any  future  eradication  projects  that

may be considered in the Falklands or in

other  overseas  territories.  We  hope  this

work  is  the  first  step  in  a  major

conservation initiative in the Falklands.

If so, then maybe living in tents, tussac

bog-hopping and dodging sea lions will

be  worthwhile.  Let’s  hope  so.  The

Falklands  contains  spectacular  wildlife

that deserves as much help as it can get

to preserve it for future generations.

For further deatils contact Becky Ingham

at  Falklands  Conservation,  P  O  Box  26

Stanley, Falkland Islands.

Montserrat National Trust AGM

A Falklands Conservation fieldworker checks a bait station

on an offshore island nature reserve for signs of rat feeding


Following the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum’s AGM on 18 October 2001, Adrian Phillips gave a presentation on the

implications for the UKOTs of the World Heritage Convention. The World Heritage Convention is an international treaty which was

signed in 1972 and now has 164 ‘State Parties’.  It is overseen by the World Heritage Committee, serviced by United Nations

Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and advised by The World Conservation Union (IUCN - for natural

sites) and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS - cultural sites).

The rationale for the World Heritage Convention is that some natural and cultural places are so important that they should be

considered as part of a heritage of all humankind, in perpetuity. Their protection, as World Heritage sites, moreover is a shared

responsibility. In October 2001 there were a total of 690 World Heritage sites.

What are the benefits of World Heritage designation? World Heritage status enhances the recognition given to a site, and so

increases attention given to its management and protection.  It may also give access to international and national funds (WH Fund,

UN Foundation, Global Environment Facility etc.). And it may encourage international solidarity in protection, attract international

tourists and international build co-operation. It is a requirement that WH sites should be the subject of a management plan.

World Heritage Management Plans must involve all stakeholders and their preparation should be built around a consensus-building

process.  They should endeavour to balance conservation access, local community, and sustainable economic use so as to help

prevent threats and enhance World Heritage values.  Above all they should be usable by site managers.

Once on the list, a WH site is monitored and its conservation status is reported to the World Heritage Committee. This can be helpful

in conservation terms. For example, as a result of having World Heritage Status, El Viscaino, in  Mexico (a Gray Whale sanctuary)

was saved from industrial development, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia received international assistance for a threatened masterpiece.

There are currently three World Heritage sites in the UK Overseas Territories. Two are natural sites: Henderson Island, Pitcairn, one

of the world’s least altered raised atolls; and Gough Island, South Atlantic, one of the world’s least disrupted island ecosystems. St

George, Bermuda is a cultural site. Other sites in the Overseas Territories


 being considered for nomination as possible World

Heritage sites are Fountain Cavern, Anguilla and Gibraltar Fortress.

A number of experts have suggested that the UK should nominate South Georgia and the Chagos Archipelago as WH sites, but as

yet the UK Government appears be resisting this on political grounds. Possibly there are more sites that should be included.  The

questions for the OTs are 1) are all potential sites on the list? and 2) how should World Heritage Status of existing sites be used to

promote conservation? (See article on Inaccessible Island on next page).

                         World Heritage Convention in relation to the Overseas Territories

The  Gough  Island  terrestrial  invertebrate

survey (GITIS) has been cataloguing Gough

invertebrate species since September 1999.

Dr Alex Jones who has recently returned from

Gough and has prepared an interim report for

Tristan  da  Cunha Administration  and  UK

Foreign  and  Commonwealth  Office  on  the

survey work being carried out on Gough. (See

Forum News 20 for more details)

While  at  the  submission  of  this  report  the

survey  is  only  midway  to  completion,

preliminary  results  have  identified  a

significant  conservation  threat  to  Gough’s

native  species  in  the  form  of  accidental

introductions of non-native species. In fact,

so  many  invertebrate  species  have  been

introduced to Gough that they now equal or

exceed the number of native species in many groups. Comparisons

between the invertebrate species lists recorded thus far by GITIS with

those recorded on Gough in a previous survey by Martin Holdgate in

1955-56 indicates that many introductions have occurred on Gough

during the last 46 years, probably as a result of the requirement to

supply the island’s meteorological station.

The  impact  that  introductions  may  have  on  an  island’s  indigenous

communities can be potentially devastating. These indirect threats can

lead to long-term changes in local community structure and biodiversity,

affecting all native fauna and flora. It is not only invertebrate introductions

that pose a conservation threat to Gough. Introductions of alien plants

have been shown to threaten Gough’s biodiversity and the ever-present

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