St Helena's second international environmental conference � Nature's Benefits: Natural Capital in the South Atlantic � is currently taking place at Anne's Place in Jamestown until Friday, 15 March 2019.
In Her Excellency's opening remarks at the conference launch on Tuesday, Governor Lisa Honan said:
On St Helena, the question which most people ask me when they visit the Island relates to tourism. They ask me what St Helena Government is doing to make sure we preserve what is unique about St Helena. This is, after all, what draws tourists to the Island. We spoil it to the detriment of future generations as well as our emerging tourism industry. At the moment, I tell people about our robust planning laws and legislation which controls what can be done where; the fact that we are building up the number of flights coming to the Island gradually so that the Island's infrastructure isn't overwhelmed; and that we have declared a Marine Protected Area to protect our rich marine habitat.
I feel that the Natural Capital approach, which we are introducing to St Helena through this project funded by the UK government, will give us another instrument in our tool box which will help to manage and preserve the parts of nature which we value.
Participants from across all UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) in the region are attending the conference which is being used to consolidate the final outputs of the Natural Capital Assessment Project which SAERI (the South Atlantic Research Institute) has been implementing across the UKOTs in the South Atlantic.
Throughout this week, attendees will be able to take part in political exchanges and talks on a range of topics about nature's benefits from cloud forest to the value of the deep sea. Key speakers at the event have come from a range of organisations including York, Kent and Durham Universities, the Georgia Aquarium, SAERI, Connect Saint Helena, St Helena National Trust, JNCC, Scotland's Rural College, the Office of Environment and Heritage, Blue Marine Foundation, Blue Belt Programme, St Helena Tourism, and the St Helena, Falklands, South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands, Tristan da Cunha and Ascension Island Governments.
Councillor Christine Scipio said in her welcome speech:
This conference has provided an opportunity to bring all of the regional Overseas Territories together to discuss the role of a Natural Capital approach for environmental management and economic planning, a rare and valuable opportunity for territory-to-territory knowledge exchange. This conference has also provided a 'pull' factor, being a catalyst for people to come to the Island. For some of the delegation, they are taking the opportunity to explore other on-Island relationships and projects during their time here.
Natural Capital is not a new concept on St Helena. It might be a new name, but the idea that we have valued the natural environment, is one that we as Saints are all familiar with.
On using the conference to enhance collaboration between the South Atlantic islands and beyond, Councillor Russell Yon added:
Collaboration is a key word to achieving great things and to get the best for St Helena and the other South Atlantic islands we all need to work together and start from the top.
Today, as we come together at this conference let us continue to join forces, work towards a common goal and enjoy what we have to offer. The organisers of this conference are to be complimented for pulling this together and although it has taken a lot of thought and time this in itself is an achievement.
Amanda Gregory from the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) said about attendance so far:
The turnout, locally and from international listeners shows just how important the environment and the Natural Capital approach is to all of the South Atlantic islands. We are looking forward to an exciting second day.
SAERI's Natural Capital Project Manager, Ness Smith, encourages residents to attend the remainder of the conference. Ness said:
We had a fantastic turnout on our first day, and we would love to have as many enthusiastic Saints attending again over the next two days. Or if you can't make it, you can listen live via radio or internet link.
Source: St Helena Government