In August representatives from the South Atlantic UK Overseas Territories met on Ascension Island to discuss biosecurity. The workshop was organised and funded by the JNCC and hosted by the Ascension Island Government.
The delegation comprised a mixed bunch of people representing governments, NGO’s and related industries from the Falklands, South Georgia, Tristan Da Cunha, St Helena, Ascension Island and the UK.
The Falklands contingent comprised of Ian Campbell and Ross James from the DoA, Steve McLean from Customs, iLaria Marengo from SAERI and Anne Saunders from the JNCC.
It was a busy schedule with days being filled by presentations, group discussions and smaller ‘clinic’ type meetings where experts were able to advise on particular issues arising within territories. The discussions often went on into the evenings over delicious dinners of freshly caught tuna.
Participants also had the opportunity to get their hands dirty and help the Conservation Department plant trees in an effort to create suitable habitats for some of Ascension’s endemic plant species to thrive.
Ascension Island was an interesting choice of location for a biosecurity conference as the Island already has one of the world’s most heavily invaded terrestrial ecosystems with more than 90 % of higher plants and at least 70 % of invertebrates believed to have been introduced.
The workshop was a valuable opportunity to exchange knowledge and ideas between territories, who although geographically distinct, share some of the same biosecurity issues.
The Falklands had a lot to offer the workshop, sharing our experience and tried and tested methods, but we also learned a great deal and have returned with a wealth of new tools, ideas and contacts to help us improve our biosecurity system and protect the Falklands from pests, diseases and invasive species.
Workshop participants agreed to work together to help each other strengthen their biosecurity systems. We also agreed on a set of guiding principles to direct our work. We hope that through improved collaboration we can improve links and facilitate trade by standardising our approach to the import of goods throughout the territories.