Healthy Islands, Healthy Reefs: Awarded Darwin Plus grant

Filling knowledge gaps to enable rewilding of the Chagos Archipelago

We're extremely pleased to announce we have been awarded a Darwin Plus grant as part of the Healthy Islands, Healthy Reefs Research and Development phase.

The seabirds and corals of the Chagos Archipelago are inextricably linked. Seabirds provide nutrients that help the corals survive but, on some islands, because of the presence of invasive rats that eat seabird eggs and chicks, seabirds have disappeared, breaking this important link.

The aim of this project, in partnership with BIOT Administration and Biodiversity Restoration Specialists Limited, is to collect data to fill knowledge gaps and inform a robust and effective Rat Eradication Operational Plan to successfully remove rats, allow rewilding and ultimately boost biodiversity across the archipelago.

The project will include an expedition to the archipelago in 2022 where experts will acquire increased knowledge and data about the presence or absence of introduced predators on the remaining unconfirmed islands. It will determine the optimum bait application rates by considering bait off-take by rats and crabs and develop the specialised requirements for baiting mangroves. It is vital to acquire this information to maximise the probability of successfully eradicating rats, an essential step to rewilding the archipelago.

Joining the expedition, as a research assistant, will be a member of the Chagossian community who will work with the experts and increase their own knowledge of the archipelago especially regarding one of its biggest threats, introduced predators, which will be shared with the wider community through delivering a workshop.

CCT is grateful to the Darwin Initiative for their support of this important project.

Stay tuned for more updates!