ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE AND HIGHWAYS AUTHORITY MEETING

The monthly meeting of the Environment & Natural Resources Committee (ENRC) and the Highways Authority took place on Thursday, 13 December 2018.

The Invasive Plant Specialist, Ludi Kern, presented an update on the 'Namibian Iceplant'. This particular species is a perennial herb with pink or whitish pink flowers about 4-5mm wide. This invasive plant was first seen on St Helena in February 2017 by Mikko Paajanen whilst working as an Ecologist on the LEMP Project. The plant was observed mainly within the boundaries of the Airport. However, it has since been identified outside of this area mostly where some of the imported sand from Namibia was either stored or used. The current control and monitoring actions in place are centred around public awareness, how to identify this species and reliance on the public to inform the Invasive Plant Management team of particular areas where the plant is believed to be growing. To date the team has accounted for over a thousand plants found in locations in and around the Airport, but are also concerned that these plants can germinate as far as 150 metres away from its presumed original propagule source. The plant can produce an estimated 95 to 300 seeds annually. The plant can be eradicated successfully if immediate action is taken and information shared by all. Most of the plants found so far were disposed of through double bagging and/or incineration. If anyone has seen this plant or similar plants please call the Agriculture & Natural Resources Division (ANRD) Office on tele: 24724 and provide as much information as possible which will assist the team in identifying the plant.

The Acting Marine Conservation Officer, Samantha Cherrett, presented an update on the Marine Interaction Policy.

The 'Environmental Policy for Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus), Devil Ray (Mobula tarapacana) and cetacean interaction activities on St Helena Island to minimise risk of injury and disturbance', adopted under the Marine Management Plan (2016) currently provides guidance on interaction with marine species of St Helena.

A recent review of this Policy and associated Environmental Best Practice Guidelines identified gaps in guidance for some interactions as well as grey areas such as rare chance encounters. In consultation with the Marine Management Organisation, local stakeholders and organisations, the policy (renamed 'Policy for marine species interaction activities on St Helena Island to minimise risk of injury and disturbance'), as well as species and activity related best practice guidelines were reviewed and updated to include details for more species and provide guidance for chance encounters with large or rare marine megafauna. It is hoped that these documents will be used as best practice moving forward and incorporated into the Marine Management Plan in the future.

It was also noted that at the special ENRC meeting held on Thursday, 29 November 2018, from a total of 51 applications, 28 were successful in qualifying for funding from the Community and District Roads Project. Those applicants who were awarded funding will need to use these funds by the end of this financial year which is 31 March 2019.

Source: St Helena Government

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