The Falklands archipelago has an extensive non-vascular plant flora with a high diversity of mosses, liverworts and lichens as compared with the vascular flora. Lower plants influence water and nutrient cycling, and are known to be sensitive indicators of climate change. They are also likely to play an important underpinning role in the ecosystem services of the islands, e.g. soil/peat formation & retention and carbon storage. Falkalnd Island peatlands hold significant carbon reserves, but are undergoing erosion through processes that are poorly understood. Recent extended dry spells have highlighted the role of lower plants in retaining moisture and preventing erosion.
Surprisingly little is known about the lower plant and lichen flora of the Falklands with the biodiversity Strategy 2008-18 having identified this as a “critical knowledge gap”. This project will address this knowledge gap, providing data essential for effective conservation planning and enhancement of the network of “Important Plant Areas” for the Falkland Islands. It would build directly on the recent OTEP-funded native plants project and contribute critical information to parallel projects relating to Protected Areas (OTEP funded) and Biodiversity Action Planning (Darwin +). A programme of survey, capacity-building, outreach and conservation planning is proposed for the lower plant and lichen vegetation of the Falkland Islands. Over two years, the project will:
Conduct three collecting, mapping and monitoring expeditions concentrating on the already identified Important Plant Areas (IPAs) alongside additional in-country field work carried out by the Project Officer;
Develop a lower plants inventory for the Falklands Plants Database;
Develop a field studies laboratory and lower plants herbarium in the Falklands capital, Port Stanley, and provide additional training for the volunteer herbarium curator;
Train a Project Officer for Falklands Conservation
Deliver training workshops for at least 40 local participants;
Publish four academic journal articles;
Publish a ‘flip book’ guide to the common Bryophytes and Lichens of the Falkland Islands;
Support the production of management guidelines for ten protected areas and IPAs.
The Falkland Islands Seabird Monitoring Programme has been around, in one form or another, for 24 years. Today, it is an annual event visiting a number of sites around the Falkland Islands to count penguins, albatrosses and petrels. The Programme provides estimates of trends in the numbers of breeding pairs, as well as breeding success, and is critical in understanding what is happening to a number of the globally significant seabird populations supported by the Islands.
Very little is known about the ecology of the Falkland Islands' birds of prey (or raptors). They are an inherent part of the landscape and important in terms of ecological roles (e.g. turkey vultures scavenge and clean up the environment) whilst the inquisitive striated caracara is a popular attraction for wildlife tourists. The Falkland Islands is the global stronghold for the striated caracara (where only 600 pairs breed) and the project is paying particular attention to this species.
Falklands Conservation is working alongside the Falkland Islands Government Environmental Planning Department, Department of Agriculture & Rural Business Association, the Royal Society Zoological Society of Scotland, Royal Society for Protection of Birds, Hawk Mountain Sanctury, Wildlife Conservation Society, Boise State University and EDM International.
To date 746 unique leg ID bands have been fitted to striated caracaras including breeding adults, fledged chicks and immature birds. The bands were fitted at four island locations that are important to striated caracara: Steeple Jason Island, Carcass Island, Saunders Island and New Island. In addition, seven solar powered satellite trackers were fitted to birds and data is currently being generated.
You can help by reporting any banded Striated Caracaras to Falklands Conservation. Click on the photos below for a quick guide:
Soil is the most basic of all natural resources, providing nutrients for plants and soil fauna, soaking up rainwater and acting as a long-term store of atmospheric carbon. Peat is the dominant soil type across the Falkland Islands and is globally the densest store of soil carbon. However, peat is also vulnerable to soil erosion and has become a serious problem on the Falklands. Loss of vegetation exposes the peat to erosive winds and, over many years, many areas have completely lost the peaty topsoil revealing deeper clay soil horizons. Natural plant recolonization is slow on eroded soil due to strong winds, semi-arid climatic conditions and the harsh soil substrate. This in turn can have a negative impact on the soil seed bank and growth and the establishment of any emerging plants. Furthermore, there are currently no native seeds commercially available for restoration; only non-native pastoral species are available to landowners and farmers. As part of a 2-year Darwin funded project, we are aiming to enhance the capacity for habitat restoration in the Falklands by using native seeds. This work is a collaborative effort with Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the Natural History Museum in the UK. You can follow the progress of our Habitat Restoration Officer’s activities on this webpage and learn more about Falkland Islands peatlands, native seeds and restoration.
With the help of the WWF, Falklands Conservation is working toward identifying the critical foraging habitats of Falkland Islands key marine predators. We hope that uncovering these foraging 'hot spots' will ultimately lead to enhanced protection for the amazing marine biodiversity that the Falkland Islands hold.
One key predator that is helping us to uncover foraging hot spots, is the king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus).
One of the best loved penguin species in the Falklands – the charismatic southern rockhopper penguin is our logo at Falklands Conservation and our flagship species. You can follow the dedicated research undertaken by Falklands Conservation to learn more about this special penguin.
We respond to small-scale wildlife rescues where we can, often this involves wildlife around the capital - Stanley, where most of the human population is found. We have a small oiled seabird rehabilitation facility in Stanley that deals with low numbers of rescued oiled seabirds, particulalrly penguins. We do not have facilities to deal with all cases of rescued wildlife - please call our offices if you have any concerns regarding wildlife.
Our philosophy with wildlife is to let nature take its course and not to disturb. However when man-made threats (such as oil pollution or marine debris) impact on wildlife we try to reduce the impacts to the best of our ability.
There are no facilities to deal with seals at the Falklands. Often young seals can get separated from their mums or weaned individuals that are just learning to be self-reliant are found on beaches near to Stanley. The best approach is to not disturb the animal. Please consider whether the animal looks like it really does need any intervention before calling our offices - we often are not able to respond as we don't have facilities or expertise to look after young seals. In some cases nature has to take charge.