Falklands Conservation

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Falklands Conservation is a non-governmental organisation working to protect all the wildlife in the Falkland Islands for future generations. It undertakes practical conservation projects, surveys and scientific studies, conducts annual monitoring of seabird populations, rescues wildlife in trouble, publishes guides and information on many aspects of the Falkland Islands environment, and involves islanders of all ages in its activities, including running a Watch group for children. It relies on donations and public support to carry out its work.

Falklands Conservation is a partner of BirdLife International, a worldwide network which aims to conserve wild birds, their habitats and global diversity.

Wildlife in the Falkland Islands[edit]

The Falkland Islands are an exceptional place for wildlife where nature is still in charge both on land and in the surrounding seas. There are spectacular seabird colonies, rare plants and insects, and two endemic birds. There are no native trees, but tussac grass grows up to three metres (10 ft) tall and provides nesting sites for 30 species of birds and shelter for sea lions and elephant seals. You will find information on the best time to see birds and marine mammals and on wildlife habitats in the section About Falklands Wildlife.

Falklands Wildlife of Global Importance: Two-thirds of the world's black-browed albatrosses; The world's largest populations of gentoo penguins (30%) and southern giant petrels (40%); Critical for the conservation of striated caracara, ruddy-headed geese, black-throated finches and tussac birds, which are seriously threatened or have very restricted distributions in South America; Two endemic bird species; Cobb's wren and the Falkland flightless steamer duck and 12 subspecies unique to the Falklands; 175 native species of higher plants with 14 endemic species; Wingless insects adapted to the windy environment and found nowhere else.

Many fascinating birds, most of them remarkably numerous and tame, can be seen in and around the Falkland Islands. 219 species have been recorded: 21 are resident land birds, 18 waterbirds, 22 breeding seabirds, 18 annual non-breeding migrants and at least 140 occasional visitors. The vagrants are often species that breed in South America which are blown westward when on spring or autumn migrations. The Falkland Flightless Steamer Duck and Cobb's Wren are unique to the Falklands and found no-where else. Visit the sections Penguins and Albatross and Petrels to find out more about these very special Falkland birds. For all other species and a complete Falklands check list go to Birds.

Plants 178 native flowering plants grow in the Islands, 14 of which are endemic.

Insects and Invertebrates Many unique insects including the rare and beautiful Queen of the Falklands Fritillary butterfly are found in the Islands. Some species are new to science and yet to be named.

Freshwater Life Numerous wildfowl inhabit fresh water and brackish ponds, along with the native fish species including zebra trout and the Falkland's freshwater minnow. For more information go to Freshwater Life.

Marine Life The rich seas surrounding the Falklands Islands contain a wealth of wildlife which is highlighted in the Shallow Marine Survey. Coastal waters are home to many species of whales and dolphins, seals and sea lions.

State of the Environment:-

The Falkland Islands State of the Environment Report 2008 (4928kb PDF) provides detailed information on the current knowledge of the Falklands’ environment, including its wildlife, both on land and at sea, including geology, meteorology, ecology and biology. It also describes the human population, social infrastructure and commercial and recreational activities undertaken within land and marine habitats. It highlights processes that threaten the Islands’ wildlife and identified policies to mitigate these. It reports that the Islands are unlikely to experience any global warming because of melting of Antarctic ice which will probably result in cooler temperatures, increased cloud cover and levels of rainfall.

Falkland Islands Wildlife under Threat:-

It might seem, given the remoteness of the Falkland Islands, that the impact of human activities has been minimal. However, in the past: seals and penguins were slaughtered in hundreds of thousands for their skins and oil; uncontrolled grazing by sheep and cattle and deliberate burning reduced the native coastal tussac grass to one fifth ot its original extent and the warrah, an endemic fox, was hunted to extinction by the early settlers. Today the development of an offshore oil industry and a large commercial fishery across the Patagonian Shelf pose potentially grave threats to our wildlife. The accidental introduction of rats, mice and feral cats with the early settlers has led to the destruction of thousands of ground nesting petrels and songbirds. Changes in agriculture can encourage non-native introductions and new roads improve access to previously isolated areas. Our lack of knowledge on many species in the Southern Ocean food chain is a serious risk in itself and there is an urgent need for more research. Red tides caused by toxic algaes growing in warmer waters and climate change may also have severe impacts in the long term.

Protection of our environment:-

Falklands Conservation has been working to protect the wildlife of the Falklands for over 30 years. Based in Stanley, Falklands Conservation is a thriving charity at the heart of the Islands' community. Over the years the organisation has worked to protect sensitive and important sites for wildlife; 22 Important Bird Areas have been designated along with 16 Important Plant Areas. Since 1998, small tussac islands have been targeted for rat eradication, helping the endemic Cobb's wren, other songbirds and small burrowing petrels to re-colonise these rat free islands. Falklands Conservation owns 19 small offshore islands and islets which are protected as nature reserves. Many of our seabirds and marine mammals return only to the Falklands to breed. For the rest of the year they forage over vast distances at sea. To ensure successful protection of these oceanic species we must work at an international level to promote best practices throughout their foraging ranges and by co-operating in a number of regional and international conservation initiatives and attending conferences to share our scientific data and expertise.

Watch Group[edit]

Learning about and being a part of the natural environment is not only fun, but a way of connecting people to the world that surrounds them. Starting with tomorrow’s citizens and leaders, the Watch Group gets hands-on with the outdoors.

As the junior branch of Falklands Conservation, the WATCH Group has 60 members aged 7–14. Each month, a whole-group activity focuses on an aspect of the natural world, from crafts and presentations on raptors to creating recycle bins to beachcombing at a Christmas barbecue. The entire group participates in a mammoth camping trip at Elephant Beach Farm each year. And each member is invited on a small-group weekend trip to a remote part of the Falklands.

The WATCH Group is generously sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank.

Falklands Conservation's Watch Group achieved recognition for interest in their environment by becoming runners-up in the 2012 RSPB Club of the Year Competition.

Environmental Education Centre Appeal[edit]

Falklands Conservation has launched a new appeal to fund an Environmental Education Centre in the heart of Stanley, with a target of £100,000. The new building will be an integral and inclusive facility in the heart of Stanley, designed to inspire the next generations of Falkland Islands youth and families. The Watch Group is the junior branch of Falklands Conservation and has been providing interactive, wildlife and environmental education for 14 years. Businesses, organisations and individuals can help by submitting a donation.


The origins of FC go back to 1979 when a group of naturalists, including Peter Scott, established a UK registered charity, the Falkland Islands Foundation (FIF), to protect the wildlife of the Falklands as well as its historic shipwrecks.

1980 The Falkland Islands Trust (FIT) formed in the Islands.

1981 Twelve people are appointed to an Advisory Council, including Robin Woods, Julian Fitter and Ron Lewis Smith (who are still actively involved).

1982 Sir Peter Scott writes to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to express concern that military activity may cause unnecessary damage Falklands' wildlife. He receives a sympathetic response.

Following the Argentine invasion and defeat (14 June) submissions are made to the Shackleton Economic Study. The Foundation becomes a membership organisation.

1983 Simon Lyster is appointed part-time Secretary, based at WWF-UK. A report from Kevin Standring is commissioned on conservation issues after the Conflict outlining 20 Projects. First Newsletter issued. Robin Woods launches the Breeding Birds Survey, promoted locally Tom Davies, Chairman FIT.

1984 A wildlife poster is produced with the Ministry of Defence. The Foundation buys 7 islands in Falkland Sound and leases 9 islands around New Island from the Royal Society for Nature Conservation. Free-for-all fishing takes place in adjacent waters – 48 vessels within 150 miles. The wreck of the St Mary surveyed.

1985 FC acquires Outer NW Island and 2 islets on lease from Robert Gibbons. Preservation work on wreck of the Jhelum planned.

1986 Falkland Islands Conservation Zone is established for fishing waters around the Islands. Unexplained penguin deaths cause concern. A major Seabird Project begins, funded by the Falkland Islands Government and is undertaken by Kate Thompson and Dann Hale. Roger Wilson becomes Secretary in November 1986. FIF joins IUCN, the World Conservation Union. Sir Peter Scott stands down as Chairman and is succeeded by Sir Rex Hunt. First 'Trust News' produced.

1987 Fishing is controlled within the FICZ. Tourist information panels put up at Lodges. Tussac Islands survey started.

1988 Dr Kate Thompson becomes Assistant Secretary, part of her time to be spent in the Islands. FC’s North Island struck by lightning. Penguin deaths in 1986 are attributed to a food shortage at a critical period of annual cycle in the research report An Investigation of Rockhopper Penguin Mortality in the Falklands during 1985-1986 Breeding Season by Dr Ian Keymer.

1989 Colin Phipps becomes Chairman. The booklets 'Wild Flowers of the Falkland Islands', 'Those were the Days' and the report An Assessment of the Potential for Competition between Seabirds and Fisheries in the Falkland Islands are published.

1990 Beauchêne Island is visited for the first time by FC to monitor seabird populations. Dr Kate Thompson becomes Secretary. Squid fishery investigations take place. Wild Flower survey planned. Lord Buxton is appointed President.

1991Falklands Conservation is formally launched on 1 August by Sir David Attenborough, following a merger between FIF and FIT. A conservation video 'Preserving the Falklands' is produced with the Falkland Islands Tourist Board. Carol Miller appointed as FI Secretary. First issue of FC magazine The Warrah appeared in November.

1992 HRH The Duke of York becomes Patron. A desk study on potential Ramsar sites in the Falklands (sites of international wetlands importance) is undertaken for the UK Dept of Environment. Tony Stones becomes Secretary in UK. Professor. John Croxall is appointed Chairman

1993 Wildlife id sheets for junior schoolchildren produced. Kate Thompson leaves in June. A full-time Conservation Officer is appointed based in Stanley and Ann Brown appointed UK Secretary. Increasing tourism begins to raise questions about wildlife disturbance and site protection. First community beach clean is held at Hadassa Bay, Port William, on 18 March. Jeremy Smith starts work as a seasonal Field Science Officer.

1994 A Wildlife of the Southern Oceans painting exhibition held in London to raise funds. A Gypsy Cove trail guide produced. Let's Look at Wild Flowers of the Falkland Islands educational pack, written by Sally Poncet, is produced for the Stanley Community School.

1995 The Sea Mammal Research Unit is contracted to undertake a survey of the Falklands' population of the Southern Sea Lion. Penguin Appeal reaches £140,500.

1996 The first Island wide penguin census (Gentoo, Rockhopper and King) is carried out. A coastal baseline study is undertaken prior to hydrocarbon exploration.

1997 A recovery plan for Felton’s Flower is developed. Jeremy Smith is appointed Conservation Officer and Rebecca Ingham joins the staff as Field Science Officer. The Stanley office moves to new premises on Ross Road.

1998 Seabirds at Sea Team (SAST) Programme begins to collect data on the distribution of seabirds and marine mammals in the waters surrounding the Islands. Undertaken for its first 3 years under contract by JNCC, this Programme set out to inform offshore oil development. Outer & Double Islands purchased. Falklands Conservation changes from a trust to a company limited by guarantee and decides to drop preservation of historic wrecks from its active work programmes. Moore's Plantain is recognised as new endemic plant. Penguin migration movements in winter are investigated. The website is on line for the first time.

1999 Mitigation measures begin to be investigated in the light of continued and increasing seabird mortality as recorded by the SAST. The Native Plants Survey launched with FC working through a Darwin Initiative funded plants programme. The WATCH Group launched for junior members.

Following extensive advice and preparation of draft legislation by FC, the Conservation of Wildlife & Nature Ordinance came into force on 1 November 1999 extending, updating and revising previous nature conservation laws.

Becky Ingham was appointed Conservation Officer and Dr Andrea Clausen joins FC as Field Science Officer. FC joins the UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum. RPSB officers visit the Falklands to help and advise on development plan. Staff receive training in Oil Spill Management.

2000 Flowering Plants of the Falkland Islands is published. A second census of Falkland penguins is carried out showing an increase in numbers. Research into the impact of the cruise-ship industry is undertaken by Debbie Summers. The SW Atlantic Marine Environment Conference is held in London. Endemic Cobb's Wren population estimates increased in light of visits to offshore islands. A census of the Falklands' black-browed albatrosses showed a population decline of 17,000 pairs per year from 1995/96. The Falkland Islands National Herbarium is set up.

2001 Tussac restoration work begins at Port Harriet. The last issue of the Warrah is published in May and first issue of Wildlife Conservation in the Falkland Islands published in October. A survey to locate Felton's Flower in the wild is undertaken, sponsored by the Friends of Kew. Falkland Islands Countryside Code produced by FC. South Jason Island severely burnt by fire. FC takes action to highlight fire danger and the need to issue guidelines to the military. First Volunteer Point wardens in place. Rat eradication programme takes place on Top and Bottom and Outer and Double Islands. We move new offices to the Jetty Visitor Centre, Stanley.

2002 A survey is conducted of Hill Cove Mountains and Forest for first FI National Park designation. The Red Data List of Threatened Falkland Plants is published. Survey of Falkland invertebrates started in spring 2002, and many new species found. First Conservation Charity Ball in Stanley raises £8,000. Robin Woods appointed Chairman.

2003 Rats cleared from 305ha North East Island. Collection of FI native seeds begun as part of the UK Millennium Seed Bank project. Collection of albatross eggs becomes illegal. Survey of Bleaker Island with the British Schools Exploring Society. Action on invasive plants was begun with clearance of thistles on Saunders Island. Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning kills thousands of seabirds due to a red algal bloom in December 2002 and January 2003. Gentoo and rockhopper penguin populations are affected, particularly at colonies in the north-west of the Falkland Islands.

2004 Falkland Islands Government adopts the FC prepared National Plan of Action for Seabirds. Small Grants Scheme launched for local conservation projects. Cetacean Watch launched. Darwin Initiative provides funding for a three-year invertebrates research project. FC becomes Partner-designate in Birdlife International and takes part in BirdLife's global meeting. We become an associate member of International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators. A major new project is launched, funded by the Overseas Territories Environment Programme, the Albatross and Petrel Conservation Programme. A major review of staff and re-organisation of structure leads to the creation of five permanent and full-time posts in the Stanley Office: Director, Secretary, Science Officer, Community Conservation Officer and Conservation Officer.

2005 A series of leaflets on key wildlife sites produced. A two-year education project starts, working with Falkland schools to produce teaching materials on native wildlife and local environmental issues. Island-wide surveys (conducted every five years) of albatrosses and penguins reveal further declines in numbers, but a huge reduction in seabird mortality in Falkland waters following introduction of mitigation measures, trialled by Falklands Conservation. New Breeding Birds Survey is launched.

2006 In March Falklands Conservation hosted an international Workshop 'Albatross and Petrels in the South Atlantic: Conservation Priorities'. This gathering brought together 35 experts and key players from the UK’s South Atlantic Overseas Territories and representatives from neighbouring countries. An at sea observer was employed to check on the effectiveness and use of seabird mitigation devices and monitor by-catch within the Loligo (squid) and finfish trawlers in Falkland waters. In November a repeat census of the rare Striated Caracara was conducted, following the initial count in 1997. The Important Bird Areas of the Falkland Islands is published - this details 22 sites which qualify as IBAs under international criteria.

2007 A series of practical conservation leaflets were published covering Marine Mammal Rescue, Tussac Grass Planting and Management, Management and Removal of Invasive Plants, and Wild Bird Rescue. We also published a Falkland Island Penguin Arts and Crafts book for children. In August we purchased our own premises in Stanley, two of the historic terrace of Jubilee Villas on the harbour front. A long-term albatross demographic programme was started on Steeple Jason Island. A two-year Plants Project started in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. We help and support implementation the EU South Atlantic Invasive Species Project. Our Falkland Islands Invertebrates Conservation Project finished in August 2007. During its three-year term, over 100 new records were added to previously know species lists.

2008 An international workshop was held in Edinburgh, Scotland, to investigate the continued decline of rockhopper penguin populations. Funds were received from the Overseas Territories Environment Programme to commence a Shallow Marine Survey in partnership with the Falkland Islands Shallow Marine Survey Group. An oiled wildlife contingency plan is drafted after the sinking of a fishing trawler in Berekeley Sound and the subsequent rehabilitation of oiled gentoo penguins. A review and update of the FIG National Plan of Action for Seabirds and Trawlers is progressed.

2009 was the 100th anniversary of the naming of Cobb’s wren, one of two endemic birds found in the Falkland Islands. At the request of the Falkland Islands Government, a Species Action Plan was produced. A Flagship Species for Cobb’s wren project was undertaken to survey, monitor and eradicate rats from offshore islands. Our WATCH Group for children aged 7 –14 years celebrated its first 10 years. It now involves 50 young members from Stanley in a full programme of wildlife activities and field trips. The OTEP funded Rockhopper Penguin Study, based on Steeple Jason Island, commenced to investigate foraging patterns and diet both through the winter and in the breeding season. A Native Plants Programme was launched. This will establish a native plant nursery in Stanley, progress designation of Important Plant Areas, implement plant and habitat action plans and set up long term plant monitoring systems.

2010 saw the 4th Falkland Island Wide Seabird Surveys - in 28 days, over 300,000 penguins and 400,000 albatross pairs surveyed by a 12 person team. Completion of the 6 month scoping project on birds of prey and livestock interactions. In collaboration with FIG Department of Agriculture, FC sets up restoration trials on two recently cleared mine fields near Stanley. A tussac restoration project is also initiated at Cape Pembroke. FC participated in the first World Seabird Conference held in Canada in September. A severe storm in December caused mass nest failure of seabirds breeding at Beauchêne and Steeple Jason. 2011 A multi-species tracking programme, in collaboration with British Antarctic Survey and help from WWF, is initiated to identify the critical foraging habitats of Falkland Islands key marine predators starting with southern sea lions, rockhopper penguins and king penguins. This programme aims to reveal foraging hotspots and ultimately enhance protection for key marine species. In association with the Royal Kew Botanical Gardens and FC’s Native Plants Programme, Stanley Nursery sells first native plants at a farmers market in March.

Falklands Conservation is a BirdLife International partner, representing the Falkland Islands, and a member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.




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