The UK Overseas Territories - The UK's hidden natural treasures

The UK has responsibility for 14 Overseas Territories which are astoundingly rich in biodiversity. However, this wildlife is under severe threat.

 Black browed albatross Thalassarche melanophrys, West Point Island, Falklands.


The 14 UK Overseas Territories hold some of the world's most remarkable environments, from vast coral reefs to windswept albatross islands, and more than 90 per cent of the threatened wildlife for which the UK, in conjunction with Territory governments, has responsibility. However, these environments are highly vulnerable. Whilst Territory environmental protection laws and policies follow good practice in some important areas, many Territories have significant gaps in their environmental governance which urgently need to be addressed.
In a welcome and ambitious passage in the 2012 Overseas Territories White Paper, the UK Prime Minister wrote: 'We see an important opportunity to set world standards in our stewardship of the extraordinary natural environments we have inherited'. The White Paper also announced a new strategic priority to ensure the Territories 'abide by the same basic standards of good government as in the UK'.
In the first phase of a new project the RSPB made an assessment of progress in Overseas Territories' environmental governance since 2012. This is based on a previous study we conducted (see below).
In the second phase we have extended our project to explore further areas of governance which are crucial to a healthy natural environment: biosecurity, fisheries, climate change and environmental financing frameworks.


  • Help determine whether the high-level environmental ambitions of Overseas Territory and UK Governments are being met, and how.
  • Identify whether shared solutions exist for the remaining gaps and therefore where resources and support should be strategically focussed.


Planned Work

Downloads are available below –or forthcoming– on each project.
Phase I:
  • This will map out gains achieved in Overseas Territories' environmental governance between 2012 and 2015, as well as continuing gaps. 
Phase II:
  • A practical review of governmental frameworks in place for biosecurity safeguards to prevent unwanted invasions of alien species in vulnerable Caribbean Territories.
  • A report on the environmental sustainability of fisheries in the South Atlantic Territories, a region of outstanding marine biodiversity.
  • A vision for how measures to adapt to climate change can safeguard the most valuable sites for nature in the Caribbean, one of the areas in the world most vulnerable to climate change.
  • Demonstration of a positive vision for how small island States, such as the Overseas Territories, can finance innovative mechanism to help finance their environmental work.



This work has been generously funded by a grant from the John Ellerman Foundation.


Coast on a stormy day

Jonathan Hall

Head of UK Overseas Territories Unit, RSPB
Tagged with: Country: International Project status: [Missing text '/categories/category[@name="Root"]/description' for 'English']: Habitats