A new 25-year partnership project that aims to protect internationally important seabird populations on the Isles of Scilly has been given the green light.
The islands are home to breeding populations of 14 species and about 20,000 birds, including storm petrels, Manx shearwaters and puffins. The local seabird population has declined by almost 25% in the past 30 years, mainly because eggs and chicks have been preyed upon by rats.
Up until now, rodent control work has been confined to Scilly’s uninhabited islands and has left them rat-free, although work is regularly required to maintain this status. The project, which involves the RSPB, Natural England and the Duchy of Cornwall together with the islands’ Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty partnership, Wildlife Trust and Bird Group, aims to make two of Scilly’s inhabited islands rat-free over the next 25 years.
Most of the scheme’s £900,000 financial backing is coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and, because of Scilly’s Special Protected Area status, from the European Union’s LIFE budget too.
Paul St Pierre, RSPB Conservation Officer, said: “As well as seeking to bolster the population of seabirds, we want to involve more people in the celebration, enjoyment and protection of the islands’ seabird heritage. We want to help these islands make more of their seabird heritage and to strengthen its image as a seabird-friendly destination for an ever wider audience.”