The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and the University of Exeter have secured two significant grants from the UK Government’s Darwin Plus Initiative in order to boost sea turtle conservation efforts in the UK Overseas Territories (UKOT) of Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
The two projects will work directly with the Governments of the BVI and Montserrat respectively, as well as local partner organisations and communities to support the recovery, monitoring and management of turtle populations.
“We are absolutely delighted to have received crucial Darwin Plus funding for two new projects in the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat,” said Amdeep Sanghera, MCS’s UKOT Conservation Officer. “These projects will help us understand the status of turtle populations in these UK Overseas Territories, and how people are dependent upon them. In the face of climate change, habitat destruction and overfishing, it’s vital we develop resilience in these island’s marine ecosystems for the turtles and for the people that also depend on them for the economy and wellbeing. These grants will allow our partnerships to fully engage with local communities in developing strategies to safeguard sea turtles and their habitats in these two amazing places.”
The Montserrat project is led by the University of Exeter and the Government of Montserrat, with the MCS playing a key supporting role. The project will build the capacity of Montserrat residents to monitor and manage turtle populations through an improved scientific evidence base. MCS will also support the development and implementation of a Marine Turtle Species Action Plan for Montserrat.
The UKOTs are home to an enormous variety of wildlife as well as complex ecosystems, possessing more than 94% of the UK’s unique biodiversity. The UK Government’s Darwin Plus Initiative provides funding to support projects which aim to protect the natural environment of the UKOTs.
Two other grant applications for projects on Montserrat were also approved by the Darwin Initiative.