Ascension Island

News

The Ascension Island Government conservation team produces a detailed newsletter every 3 month, ‘The Conservation Quarterly’ which can be downloaded from the website

Events

Projects

A successful feral cat eradication project was initiated in 2001 with the last cat killed in January 2004. Indications are that some species of seabirds are recolonising the mainland now that the cats have been removed.

Drawing on commitments made under the Environment Charter, OTEP funding was used in 2004-5 for a project to develop and initiate the implementation of Ascension’s first national park management plan (OTEP ASC 001). This included work to clear high priority endemic plant colonies of invasive vegetation and protect them from grazing. A further two-year project (OTEP ASC 801) has now been funded to develop an ecosystem approach to plant conservation on Ascension Island. This will include work to clear invasive species and put up fencing to protect six restoration sites from rabbit grazing.

The South Atlantic Invasive Species project (SAIS) was undertaken during the period December 2006 to December 2009. It was funded by the Ninth European Development Fund and carried out by the RSPB in partnership with the Governments of Ascension Island, Saint Helena, Tristan da Cunha, the Falkland Island, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands, Falklands Conservation and the Saint Helena National Trust. The overall goal of the SAIS project was to enhance the economic prosperity and quality of life of the people of the UK Overseas Territories (OTs) in the South Atlantic through the reduction of the threat that invasive species pose to the native biodiversity of the South Atlantic UKOTs. A brief summary of the aspects of the work relating to Ascension Island can be found here

A new two-year project (Defra CR 0492), being carried out by CABI and started in January 2011, is looking at the impact of invasive non-native species in the UK Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic and the potential for biological control. Details of this project and a report on the preliminary results for Ascension Island can be found here

Two OTEP funded projects started in 2011:-
An Ecosystem Approach to Plant Conservation on Ascension Island’ (OTEP ASC 801) is a 2 year project and will be a significant advance towards an ecosystem approach to the conservation of the endemic and native plants of Ascension Island. This will be achieved by:

  • Filling the knowledge gap on important keystone species i.e. bryophytes.
  • Delivering staff training in all relevant departments so that they are better able to develop and implement sustainable conservation measures that incorporate climate change and employ the ecosystem approach.
  • Restoring plant communities on Ascension; delivering communities in the Ascension Biodiversity Action Plan.

Status of marine turtles of Ascension Island’ (OTEP ASC 803) – previous work has shown that Ascension Island is of global importance for marine turtles, and that these species are vulnerable to global climate change. This project will produce an updated status and management plan for these threatened species on AI. This work will determine whether systems for monitoring and management put in place following our management plan a decade ago are still valid, and will enable development of expertise in monitoring and conservation in the AI conservation community. The outputs are important for management of this species at AI, regional management plans and global (IUCN) species assessments.

A Darwin Initiative Project starts on the 1st July 2012, ‘Implementing a Darwin Initiative Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for Ascension Island’. This project will develop and put into action a BAP for Ascension Island integrating available information on the spatial distribution of biodiversity, threats, and mitigation measures. As a result, a much better understanding of biodiversity across the range of key taxa will be developed and mitigation of those threats will have been initiated leading to improved status.

A JNCC funded project began in June 2012, for the ‘Management of endemic fern Marattia purpurascens’. The project covers erecting fencing to exclude rabbits and sheep from identified areas on Green Mountain, clearing of invasive species that threaten Ascensions endemic Marattia purpurascens, especially on the east-south-east side of the mountain, and the development and erection of educational pathway signage to raise awareness of the species and efforts underway to ensure its conservation.

A Darwin Challenge Fund project will begin in August 2012 ‘Assessing Ascension Islands Shallow Marine Biodiversity’ – results from this survey will result in faunal and floral species inventory, habitat descriptions and maps, a field guide to marine invertebrates, algae and fish, a report on status of marine endemics, and a report on the potential impacts of climate change. This will inform Ascension Island Government of how they can fit their shallow marine environment into future biodiversity strategies and form CBD targets, and will also inform work needed for a full Darwin Initiative Fund application.


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