British territories’ environment at risk

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The BBC features the Grand Cayman blue iguana (above) and the Montserrat mountain chicken (below) as examples of endangered species present on British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, whose wildlife and environment are under threat. It is important to note that these lands hold 94% of the UK’s endemic and rare species.

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Environment ministers from Britain’s overseas territories say the government has cut funds and been distracted by Brexit. They say there is huge confusion among government departments about responsibility for the territories. The government calls the criticism unfair and points to its creation of large marine protection areas.

The UK holds jurisdiction over 19 British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies – parts of the British Empire that have not been granted independence or have voted to remain British territories.

Their lands hold an extraordinary wealth of rare species: 94% of the UK’s endemic species – found nowhere else in the world – are in outposts of the former empire.

Among the endangered creatures are a giant frog called the Montserrat mountain chicken; the Spiky yellow woodlouse, existing only land the size of a tennis court on St Helena; and the Grand Cayman blue iguana.

Representatives of 14 of the territories – ranging from Bermuda to Pitcairn and Gibraltar – joined the meeting of the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum on the Channel island of Alderney.

The islands are highly vulnerable to climate change, but ministers complained that the government had almost halved Foreign Office spending on the climate. [. . .]

[Photos above by Dr. Mike Pienkowski.]

For full article, see http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39771047

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