Team behind the new Darwin Plus project. (left to right) Sarita Francis, Delmaude Ryan, Kadine Cabey, Catherine Wensick, Jerome Meade, Jo-Diaz Tye

National Trust Launches New Darwin Funded Project on Biodiversity and Human Well Being

The Montserrat National Trust and its partners launched a new three-year project which will look to continue its work to develop a new generation of conservationists and preserve the island’s environment.

“Delivering Biodiversity and Human Well Being Gains for Montserrat’s Sustainable Development” shortened to DPLUS192: Biodiversity and Well Being Toolkit is the result of continued interest by the public about the work that the Trust has been doing to increase awareness of initiatives to protect, preserve and educate all about the island’s environment.

Delmaude Ryan, the MNT’s Project Officer said this new Darwin Plus project which runs from 2023 to 2026 will allow the organization to advance work begun under programmes such as the Adopt a Home for Wildlife, and Hidden Histories (medicinal plants).

Catherine Wensink, Director of the UKOT Conversation Forum, the lead partner agency, welcomed the new collaboration with the Trust as it would allow for the continued development of Montserrat “sustainably while protecting what it holds dear.”

Partners on the project are UKOTCF, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH), and Leeds Museum and Archives.

Ryan said a number of local stakeholders will be involved in the project including planners, contractors, landscapers, and conservationists. Jerome Meade, Chief Physical Planner in the Ministry of Agriculture welcomed the new project and acknowledged the impactful work of the Trust in delivering its mandate.

Both MNT Director Sarita Francis and Ryan shared that involving the younger generation was critical to preserving the island’s biodiversity. The new project will see the execution of plans to strengthen youth engagement and community involvement through the Trust’s Youth Cadet, Monty Messengers, and Monty Ambassadors programmes.

Monty’s Messengers has attracted 70 kids to the programme to get young children excited and educated about caring for the island’s biodiversity.

Two of the young people who will be actively engaged in the project are Kadine Cabey, who is the Jr Conservation Officer at the Trust and Jo-Diaz Tye, the Conservation Technician.

There are five elements of the project funded to the tune of £485,986.00 by the Biodiversity Challenge Fund (formerly Darwin Initiative).

1. Biodiversity & Well-being Toolkit – Development of a framework toolkit which enables biodiversity and well-being to be integrated into physical and community development. This includes extensive consultations, trialing the toolkit to measure benefits, publication of toolkit. It will involve working with Community Groups and individuals adopting areas around homes and community.

2. MNT Youth & Education Programme – Expanding MNT’s youth programme and education materials. Cadets employment. Support for Monty’s Messengers, Junior Programme and Senior Programme; Organisation of an annual Higher Education Evening.

3. Biological Collections & Information – Herbarium development, data systems and management, citizen science opportunities created and nurtured, natural history collections developed, publications and interpretation developed on biodiversity and well-being.

4. MNT Botanic Garden Development – Expansion of botanic garden to facilitate uptake of toolkit and provide source of information, demonstrations and provision of native plants to adopters.

5.Communications & Reporting – Consultations, public events and campaigns, continuous dialogue with community through outreach including social media channels.

Follow the journey to protect Montserrat’s biodiversity with the National Trust on the Facebook page.