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here - UKOTCF

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UK OVERSEAS TERRITORIESF O R U M N E W S 37DECEMBER 2010 • A full colour version of Forum News is available online at www.ukotcf.orgIt seemed to participants a very historic event on 28-29October 2010 when they gathered for the first meeting of theProject Steering Committee of the European Union-supportedManagement of Protected Areas to Support Sustainable Economiesproject. The project proposalwas coordinated in 2003 byUKOTCF, at the request ofFCO and the governments andNGOs of the three UKOTs, andsubmitted at the end of thatyear.Although the project passedall its stages for approval,usually involving lots of extrawork, problems with EuropeanCommission procedures led toa delay of seven years beforethe various contracts couldbe signed. (It is interesting tonote that the South AtlanticInvasives Species Project –often reported in these pages –which also started in discussions within UKOTCF and was fundedfrom the same EU budget, applied 6 months after this project but,despite delays, started and has been completed before the presentproject reached contract stage.)It was not surprising, therefore, that thefirst Project Steering Committee meetingstarted with thanks to Dr Mike Pienkowskiand UKOTCF for continuing to co-ordinatethe application, to Mr Delton Jones, TCIPermanent Secretary for Finance andChairman of the Steering Committee,for his continued support for the projectdespite his widened responsibilities andthe current challenges for TCI, to the threenational trusts for their fortitude, and MsMarlene Lamonth, EU Delegation ProjectOfficer for guiding matters through EUprocedures.The main part of the grant provides supportfrom the European Commission to eachCONSERVATION FORUMSeven years on:Protected area project in TCI, BVI and Cayman startsGrand Cayman blue iguana. Photo: Michael Gore FRPSKey West quail-dove, one of the special birds atWade’s Green dry tropical forest, Turks & CaicosIslands. Photo: Dr Mike Pienkowski1of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, the National ParksTrust of the Virgin Islands and the Turks & Caicos National Trustfor the work outlined below, and a similar amount to a consultancyfirm to base a consultant full-time in TCI (where the administrativelead for the project lies) toadvise on and monitor theUKOTs’ implementation of theCommission’s own elaboratefinancial procedures. A muchsmaller amount is supplied toUKOTCF to be responsiblefor the coordination of crossterritoryactivities of a technicalnature, give advice in thisarea, and monitor and reporton progress from a scientific/conservation aspect. The Trustsand UKOTCF have to makeconsiderable contributionsto the project from otherresources.Challenges remain, especiallyin that the project was designed to run for 3 years, followed by acouple of years to tidy up all reporting and accounting before theclose of spend on the 9th European Development Fund (EDF9)on 31 December 2012. Because of the delays in reaching contractstage, this 3+2 year plan now has to becompleted in 2 years. This will be taxing forthe 3 UKOT partners, especially in view ofthe Commission’s inflexible tendering andpurchasing requirements (which do notvary with the size of a project, so that theones required of this small project are thesame as for a major construction project).BackgroundLike many other UKOTs, the BritishVirgin Islands (BVI), the Cayman Islands(CI) and the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI)are particularly rich in biodiversity (ofmuch greater global importance than thatof the UK, despite their small extents).This biodiversity has served to underpin

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