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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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RSPB meet the Minister

Monday, December 10, 2007

During December the Heads of Government from many of the UK Overseas Territories met in London for a two-day meeting to discuss a number of items including the environment and climate change with the UK government. These Territories contain over 30 species of nesting bird that are facing global extinction, 20 of which are found nowhere else in the world. The RSPB, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, wanted to press the case for urgent action to protect them.

A delegation from the RSPB came to meet Meg Munn, the Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for the Overseas Territories, to explain the worldwide importance of these territories for unique wildlife and the fact that the fate of these species is undeniably a UK responsibility. They are challenging the UK government, and the Governors of the Territories, to do more to protect threatened species.

Meg Munn said:

“As an individual member of the RSPB, I was delighted to meet with them. As one of the largest membership organisations in the world they do an outstanding job in protecting all species of birds and raising issues with relevant bodies. I was alarmed at the amount of bird species under threat in the UK Overseas Territories and I will raise their concerns in my many meetings with delegates from these areas.’


Alistair Gammell, International Director for the RSPB, said:


“The UK Overseas Territories occupy an area of land far smaller than the UK mainland, but their wildlife value is immeasurably more important. A main driver of the economies of the islands is tourism and wildlife and the natural environment are major attractions. The territories wildlife face several threats, but non-native species, fisheries, habitat degradation and climate change are the most significant, affecting the greatest number of species, but in many cases the problems are entirely fixable.”


“Unfortunately, insufficient funding for conservation means that action cannot be taken and over the past 20 years, the situation for threatened wildlife has become worse. We need an urgent commitment from the UK government that it will provide funding to secure the future of threatened species.”

The latest analysis of the globally-threatened birds from the UK’s Overseas Territories shows: 20 species are facing threats from non-native species; nine are threatened by interaction with commercial fisheries, especially long-lining vessels; and seven are threatened by habitat degradation.

An RSPB-commissioned report, published earlier this year, highlighted the need to spend 16.1 million per year on wildlife protection for five years, principally on removing non-native species and improving habitat. The report stated that the current funding, administered through the Overseas Territories Environment Programme, is woefully insufficient.

Sarah Sanders added:

“Currently, the UK Overseas Territories receive about 1million per year, but if the UK government is serious about its commitments to protect globally-threatened wildlife, then this figure will have to be increased substantially. As many species on our overseas territories occur nowhere else in the world, any extinction would represent a major failure of one of the world’s richest countries to protect its own wildlife treasures.”

The UK Overseas Territory with the highest number of threatened bird species is Tristan da Cunha. This territory located in the South Atlantic is a dependency of St Helena, itself a UK Overseas Territory. Tristan da Cunha has 11 species of bird that are facing global extinction, nine of which only occur on the territory.

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