UK Failing Environmental Challenges Overseas

The well respected group the Environmental Audit Committee has just published a report on environmental issues in Britain’s many overseas dependencies. You can find the report here – but the overall conclusion is that the UK is failing to protect most of the environmental issues in these often remote areas.

The UK is responsible for endangered species and habitats in 14 locations across the world – places like Bermuda, Falkland Islands and Gibraltar.   The report found that none of these species for example had been properly recorded and cataloged and thus what policies that did exist were not based on facts but more a general ideology.   Many environmental groups have been pressing for an increase in funding for these issues, a stance that the report seems to back.

Some of these territories contain huge areas of ocean, coral islands and atolls, tropical forests and even some polar wilderness.  The scales are huge – the polar area for example is over five times the size of the entire United Kingdom.  In these areas there are at over 500 endangered species many of them of international importance.

The report highlights many issues but the main concerns were with development being unregulated, no control on invasive species and the threats they bring.  Also the issues of climate change were often ignored in some of these areas, despite their importance.

Much of the problem lies with the fact that environmental management for these areas, is mostly devolved to the local authorities in the specific locations.  This is often less than successful and the committee urged the UK to recognize that it was the UK who was ultimately responsible for the environmental issues in these areas.

One example cited was that of the Pitcairn Islands, a remote place with only 50 inhabitants.  They are keen to establish a fully protected marine environment around their island, however without the backing of the UK government this is unlikely to succeed.  The isolation of these places is obviously one of the biggest difficulties that the residents often face in securing help from Government sources.

Here’s a list of the locations –

  • Anguilla;
  • Bermuda;
  • British Antarctic Territory;
  • British Indian Ocean Territory;
  • Cayman Islands;
  • the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus;
  • Falkland Islands;
  • Gibraltar;
  • Montserrat;
  • Pitcairn,
  • Henderson,
  • Ducie and Oeno Islands (known as Pitcairn Islands);
  • St Helena,
  • Ascension and Tristan da Cunha;
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands;
  • Turks and Caicos Islands;
  • British Virgin Islands

There is an estimate produced by the RSPB that the Government needs to urgently increase funding to support environmental issues in these territories by a significant amount.  Having said that the figures are not huge as current spending is only 1.5 million and an increase to some 16 million could have great benefits.

You can keep up to date with current environmental issues on the BBC website, documentaries and news are  accessible outside the UK by using links like this.

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