A special place... The Isles of Scilly are one of only two places in England where Manx Shearwaters breed
Under threat...The Isles of Scilly hold 3,000 fewer pairs of breeding seabirds than 25 years ago
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A community based project on the Isles of Scilly has reversed the fortunes of a threatened seabird population. This week a conference was held on St Agnes and St Mary's to share the ecrets of the project’s success with an international audience.
The Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project is the world’s largest successful community based seabird recovery project. The project’s success has been celebrated and shared at an end of project conference on St Agnes and St Mary's.
The Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project removed rats from St Agnes and Gugh in 2014. The work has led to the return of storm petrels and Manx shearwaters, which are now breeding successfully.
At the conference, delegates included the community from St Agnes and Gugh, wider islands on Scilly and the rest of the UK. Also in attendance was the expert team from New Zealand that managed the removal of rats. The aim was to share knowledge on island restoration with audiences who may replicate and use these techniques to help seabirds and other wildlife elsewhere.
Jaclyn Pearson, RSPB Project Manager said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to showcase this project. Day One began with Partner talks and a field trip to see the work of the project first-hand and ended with an awards ceremony in the Island Hall when we thanked the wonderful community for their support. Everyone had huge smiles after such an action-packed day. Day Two included a boat trip, walks and talks so that our delegates felt inspired to carry out similar work elsewhere. Huge thanks to everyone, from the caterers to the boat owners who made the conference possible.”
Sarah Mason, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Office, said: “The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust manages over 60% of the land on Scilly, and we currently deliver elements of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Delivery Plan in partnership with the Council of the Isles of Scilly. At the conference we explained how the Trust is committed to supporting the community of St Agnes to maintain rat-free status into the future. The conference also hosted colleagues from other Wildlife Trusts in the UK who may choose to carry out this successful work on islands in their areas.”
Emma Eberlein, resident of St Agnes and Gugh and winner of a Seabird Hero Award said: “The Awards Ceremony Evening at our island hall was a wonderful event, we all feel very proud of the Project. It was lovely to receive an award and I look forward to continuing to help keep the islands rat-free”
This Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project is a partnership between the RSPB, the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Natural England and the Duchy of Cornwall. The project is funded by LIFE, the EU’s programme for financing key environmental schemes across the continent and a £269,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
For further information, images, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Tony Whitehead, RSPB South West Communications Manager 01392 453767
Additional Quotes and Notes:
Elizabeth Bell, Senior Ecologist, Wildlife Management International from New Zealand and contractor for the rat-removal phase said: “It is an honour to be invited back to the Isles of Scilly to provide summary details of the rat removal work, but also to convey to the delegates and the community that this project is seen as a great success in a worldwide context. What a great way to thank the community with these special awards, it was a very enjoyable event which really showcased all the great people and hard work involved.”
Will Garratt, Duchy of Cornwall, Estate Assistant, said “The Duchy of Cornwall is pleased to have been a supporter of this project since its inception. The tenants and landscape have benefitted from the long-lasting and positive repercussions of the hard work and dedication to the cause from Jaclyn and her brilliant team.”
Kate Sugar, Lead Marine Adviser, Natural England, said: “Natural England are the government’s adviser for the natural environment – as such we are responsible for monitoring and assessing the condition of the Isles of Scilly’s many protected areas for seabirds, and providing practical advice on how best to safeguard these important sites. Each delegate here has learnt that the methods used for removing the greatest threat to seabirds on land - rats - really do work. Populations of Manx shearwaters and storm petrels on Agnes and Gugh are increasing and it was fantastic to see first-hand the burrow sites where they are prospering."
Full details of the Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project can be found at: www.ios-seabirds.org.uk
Anybody who thinks they have seen a rat on St Agnes or Gugh should call the project’s Rat on a Rat hotline on: 01720 422153. The project team and islanders will then inspect the area, set up surveillance and respond if necessary.
The Heritage Lottery Fund invests money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about, from the archaeology under their feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. More information at: www.hlf.org.uk