A COMPREHENSIVE Management Plan and new regulations to further protect terrestrial habitats and the animals and plants found in South Georgia, announced by the South Georgia Government at the end of October, was specially recognised at the South Georgia Environment Day celebrated at Government House last week in the Falkland Islands.
The new Chief Executive of the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands Laura Sinclair Willis speaking about the management plan said “a very special thing has happened in South Georgia” and “everybody who is involved in this incredible territory is a link in a chain so this work of environmental protection is never done.”
She continued: “We do things now on the understanding that people have done things before us and that other people will do things, and it is wonderful to be a link in that chain.
The Chief Executive added that she was “proud that during my watch this was the link that meant we were able to declare the whole of the landmass of South Georgia a protected area. “
She explained that the marine protected area was very well established, “it is ten years old it has its tenth birthday this year, it’s been reviewed twice – we are in the midst of the second review – now we have a terrestrial protected area. So there is holistic ecosystem management across the whole territory..”
She explained there was now a law that said, “the following things are now prohibited on South Georgia the following things are allowed on South Georgia and the really important message is all about sustainable management of the ecosystem.
“So South Georgia isn’t closed it’s not re-wilding it’s all about allowing sustainable activity and ensuring sustainability continues into the future.”
HE the Governor Alison Blake hosting the reception described the day as representing the government’s job as managing the Overseas Territories sustainably, “it is about protecting the environment and exercising stewardship so that the things that make South Georgia and the Falklands the special places they are can be handed down for generations and in South Georgia we are delighted we have one of those rare and unique things which is an ecosystem in recovery.”
She also noted that South Georgia currently had avian flu amongst the skuas and suspected cases elsewhere, and that a response plan was in place and they were looking at what that meant for tourism but also were working very closely with authorities in the islands and with DEFRA in London to try and manage the outbreak.
She said the environment day was also special because of the management plan mentioned above, “a lot of work has gone into it because it is quite easy to declare a protected area but actually the hard work to decide what it is you are protecting, how you will do it and have the detailed plan and to revise your laws and regulations does take time…”