The first blog post of this series focused on the combination of science, art and education to raise awareness for the critically endangered Samoan Manumea through the publication of a children’s book. This post will focus on collaboration on a much larger scale through the combined effort of 163 experts over all 14 of the UK Overseas Territories. The experts joined forces under project DPLUS056 with a shared goal of identifying species that pose a risk to human health and biodiversity.
The UK’s 14 Overseas Territories (UKOTs) represent a diverse set of biological regions with fabulous species, habitats and people. The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology has been delighted to be involved with two projects working with the UKOTs, and are happy to share the incredible collaborations and experiences we have had over the last two years.
The first UKOTs project our team led was funded through the Darwin Initiative: DPLUS056 in 2017 Assessment of current and future Invasive Alien Species in Cyprus (http://www.ris-ky.eu). Along with our project partners, the Joint Services Health Unit (JSHU), British Forces Cyprus and the University of Cyprus we investigated current and future threats from terrestrial and aquatic invasive non-native species using historic data, field surveys and horizon scanning (Roy et al. 2014, Roy 2015). A horizon scanning workshop brought together scientists from Cyprus and across Europe to generate a list of species considered to impact biodiversity, ecosystems and human health. In addition, the project team developed and undertook surveys for native and non-native invasive species across the Western Sovereign Base Area (SBA) in Cyprus alongside the review and collation of historic data to assess the current threats.
The information we gathered was presented and discussed with regional through a capacity-building workshop in August 2017, that enabled us to better understand the monitoring priorities for biological recording in the SBAs and across wider Cyprus.
Invasive non-native (and native) mosquitoes were identified as a major threat to human health and well-being. Therefore, in the following year (April 2018), a workshop was organised looking at the challenges regarding vector-borne disease management within SBAs and beyond, with a focus on the impacts of invasive non-native species.
In 2018 our team at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology began working on a UK Government funded project through support from the Non-Native Species Secretariat to undertake horizon scanning and biosecurity workshops across all 14 UKOTs. This provided an excellent opportunity to extend the horizon scanning methods developed through our Darwin Plus project DPLUS056 to all UKOTs to derive lists of invasive non-native species that could have adverse impacts. Our project team with collaborators from around the world worked with biodiversity experts from the UKOTs in order to develop priority lists and develop Pathway Action Plans in collaboration with the regional experts and guided by the biosecurity teams.
The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, along with their project partners through their new Darwin Plus project DPLUS088: Addressing drivers of ecological change in Lake Akrotiri SBA, Cyprus continue to build on the work of our initial Darwin Plus project. Alongside remote sensing, hydrological surveys and plant assessments, which will be relevant for other UKOTs and will include a Code of Practice for Managing Mosquitoes in Wetlands.
These projects are intrinsically linked through a network of stakeholders working across common global challenges. We worked with experts from policy, environmental and research Government departments, representatives from biosecurity departments, education centres, universities, NGOs and the volunteer biological recording community. We have worked with over 150 people, through the Darwin Initiative and the UK Government funded project linking to the inspiring work within these regions. It has been a great privilege to foster networks with people working around the world on the invasive non-native species and biosecurity. The collaborations will continue in the future and we are looking forward to sharing the outcomes of this project in many different ways.
For more information on the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology’s DPLUS056 project in Cyprus please click here. The full article for this project and many others have been featured in the February 2019 Darwin Initiative newsletter that can be found here.