Welcome to the Balsam Blog, home in the internet world of the Falkland Islands Protected Areas Project.

I'll be using this blog to let people know what I've been up to and to share bits of useful information I pick up along the way. My project is subtitled 'Co-operative management of biological diversity', so that means you. The project will need your knowledge, concerns and hopes for the future to drive it along, so do contribute.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Invasive plants; What is your vision for the future?

I was in town last week to help facilitate a workshop for Richard Lewis to help him develop an Invasive Plants Strategy for the Falklands. It was really well attended, with about 25 people from government departments, conservation organisations and the wider community, who took part in a range of activities to generate ideas and establish priorities for tackling invasive plants in the Falklands.
In one activity early on in the day, groups worked together on a picture very kindly provided by Ben (did I tell you my husband is an artist and designer?). They had two copies and had to annotate and draw on them to show two visions of the future; one was to be a positive vision of how we think the islands might look if we develop and implement a suitable strategy, and the other was a vision of how the islands might end up if we don't.
The apocalyptic 'bad' versions were useful (and entertaining), but I was most interested in the 'good' visions. Some interesting ideas emerged; one was that we can't hope to eliminate all invasive plants, but need to concentrate on identifying and tackling the really bad ones. Everyone was in agreement that even more important than this will be education and information, and good biosecurity to stop things getting in in the first place.
I was most struck by Jim McAdam's vision of the future (many of you will know Jim from his 40 years of work with agriculture in the Islands). He spoke about the need for the Camp to be settled, lived in, and managed for people, agriculture and nature.  We can't turn the clock back to a time when people weren't here, and we don't want to; in that case we need a flourishing Camp community to look after the countryside, and part of that will involve tackling  invasive plants.
Stinging nettles on Middle Island
I'd like to thank everyone who came for taking part in all the activities so enthusiastically. I'd also like to thank Richard for inviting me to facilitate, and my co-facilitator Brian who kept us to time, among other sterling contributions.