The Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project (IOSSRP) has held its end of project conference on St Agnes, where it shared the secrets of its success with an international audience.
The IOSSRP is the world’s largest successful community-based seabird recovery project, successfully reversing the fortunes of a threatened seabird population.
The Project removed rats from St Agnes and Gugh in 2014, leading to the return of storm petrels and Manx shearwaters, which are now breeding successfully.
St Agnes school singing the 'Rat-Free song' (with backing vocals by Sarah, Lydia, Amy and Jaclyn)
Delegates at the conference included members of the community of St Agnes and Gugh, wider islands on Scilly and the rest of the UK. The expert team from New Zealand that managed the removal of rats were also in attendance, as well as representatives from the RSPB, Natural England and the Duchy of Cornwall.
The event aimed to share knowledge of island restoration with audiences who may replicate and use these techniques to help seabirds and other wildlife elsewhere.
RSPB Project Manager Jaclyn Pearson (above) said: “[The conference was] a fantastic opportunity to showcase this project. The first day began with talks and a field trip to see the work of the project first-hand and ended with an awards ceremony in the Island Hall when we thanked the wonderful community for their support. Everyone had huge smiles after such an action-packed day."
The second day included a boat trip and talks from the project partners "so that our delegates feel inspired to carry out similar work elsewhere".
She added: "Huge thanks to everyone, from the caterers to the boat owners who have made the conference possible.”
Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust CEO Sarah Mason said: “At the conference we explained how the Trust is committed to supporting the community of St Agnes to maintain rat-free status into the future. The conference also hosted colleagues from other Wildlife Trusts in the UK who may choose to carry out this successful work on islands in their areas.”
The evening event saw 11 community awards handed out:
The Fulmar Award for Bin Appreciation
Winner - Cllr Harry Legg
The Shearwater Award for Best Behaviour at a Training Award
Winner – St Agnes school
The Storm Petrel Award for Help with Community Signs
Nominee and winner – Chris and Lou Simmonds
The Flaming Ratters Award for Best Use of Project Hat
Winner – Biz Bell (Senior Ecologist at Wildlife Management International in New Zealand)
The Scilly Shrew Award for Best Inspection of a Wax Block
Winner – Joss and Grace Hicks
The Lesser Black-Backed Gull Award for the Best Beach-Cleaner
Winner – Johann Hicks
Seabird Hero Award (x 3)
Emma Eberlein – for the hardest to check monitoring stations and the hardest seabird surveys
The Puffin Award for Making the work of the staff and volunteers so enjoyable
Winner – combined Sam, Laura, Sue, Kate and the cows for ice cream with a smile (Troytown Farm)
The Kittiwake Award for being the face which represents the IOSSRP project
Winner – Fran Hicks
Awards were also handed out to members of the Project team and volunteers, while there was a special surprise for Project Manager Jaclyn Pearson (presented by Project Assistants Vickie Heaney and Lydia Titterton).
This Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project is a partnership between the RSPB, the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Natural England and the Duchy of Cornwall. The project was funded by LIFE, the EU’s programme for financing key environmental schemes across the continent and a £269,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Full details of the Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project can be found at: www.ios-seabirds.org.uk.
Photos by Ed Marshall.