Government funds St Helena plastics scheme

A new scheme to reduce and monitor plastic pollution on the island of St Helena has secured £72,000 in funding from the Government.

The project is part of a package of funding and support for UK Overseas Territories announced by the Government.

A new scheme to reduce plastic pollution on St Helena has received Government funding (Picture: St Helena National Trust Marine Team)

At the same time, the Darwin Plus scheme opens today for the latest round of applications to fund conservation and environmental projects in UK Overseas Territories. Around £3 million is available.

Darwin Plus will deliver on commitments set out in the 25 Year Environment Plan in UK Overseas Territories around the globe.

St Helena is an island located in the South Atlantic Ocean with an estimated population of around 4,550.

According to Defra, the new scheme on St Helena will aim to reduce the amount of plastic used by those living on the island and will establish a recycling programme for waste plastic.

As part of the project, a marine debris monitoring programme will be established along St Helena’s coastline to “better understand” this issue. Local school children and communities will be engaged in the project through an educational outreach programme, Defra said.

‘Crucial activities’

Commenting on the funding package, environment secretary, Michael Gove said: “We must protect our oceans and marine life from plastic waste if we are to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it.

“Protecting and enhancing biodiversity in the UK’s Overseas Territories will help to make crucial activities such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism more sustainable.”

Plastic pollution in the South Atlantic Ocean could threaten St Helena’s “huge array of fish and marine life,” along with coral ecosystems, Defra said.

During June, the St Helena National Trust Marine Team and the St Helena Government Marine Section and four Prince Andrew School students walked to Sharks Valley on the island for a beach clean-up.

“More than 1,000 plastic bottles, 1,540 pieces of polystyrene, 50 fishing buoys/floats and 124 flip–flops and shoes were collected by the volunteers,” Defra reports.

124 flip–flops and shoes were collected by the volunteers during a beach clean-up on St Helena

St Helena Government’s director of environment & natural resources, Derek Henry, said: “This project provides a fantastic opportunity for St Helena to become involved in reducing the amount of plastic that enters our marine ecosystem. It will involve the whole community and will educate and set up the processes for monitoring and reducing plastic waste to create a better marine environment around our Island.”

Darwin Plus

Further support through the Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund (also known as Darwin Plus) provides funding for:

  • Environmental projects in UK Overseas Territories
  • Fellowships for UK Overseas Territories (OT) Nationals to train in the UK

Since the start of 2018, the Darwin Plus funding has been awarded to 13 projects in South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, Falkland Islands, Montserrat and other UK Overseas Territories.

The fund is administered by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for International Development (DFID) and uses the UK Government’s official development assistance.

Professor Stephen Blackmore, chair of the Darwin Plus Advisory Group said: “The range of the projects funded by Darwin Plus in the UK’s Overseas Territories shows how we can effect change and better support and protect biodiversity around the globe.

“I am proud that we are delivering Darwin Plus funding to benefit animal and plant species and their habitats, which are vital to humanity’s economic and social development.”

A full list of projects currently being supported by Darwin Plus is available on the Darwin Initiative website.

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