The UK government has re-opened applications for its Darwin Plus scheme, which supports environmental and conservation projects in UK overseas territories.
The Darwin Plus scheme has provided funding to 13 projects in UK overseas territories since the start of 2018, and the latest projects to receive support include a scheme to monitor and reduce plastic pollution on the South Atlantic Ocean island of St Helena, and the creation of a data reporting system to improve the sustainability of fisheries in Montserrat.
Today, the scheme will reopen to new applications for funding to support projects in UK overseas territories, which in turn will help to pursue the UK’s 25-year environment plan.
How will the new project affect marine plastic pollution?
The newest project on St Helena will establish a recycling programme for waste plastic, and pursue a number of strategies to cut down on the amount of plastic being used, including engagement with local communities through educational outreach programmes. This will also involve the creation of a marine debris monitoring programme along the coast of St Helena, to assess the scale of ocean plastic pollution.
In June, the St Helena National Trust Marine Team undertook a voluntary beach clean up effort, and collected more than 1,000 plastic bottles, 1,540 pieces of polystyrene, 124 flip-flops and shoes, and 50 fishing buoys and floats, indicating the scale of the plastic pollution problem on the island.
Why is this a UK priority?
For the UK government, this could present a key opportunity to further its ambition to significantly reduce the amount of plastic which enters the world’s oceans each year, as Environment Secretary Michael Gove attested.
He 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.”