Ascension Island Government

Conservation

About Conservation

Safeguarding Ascension's biodiversity and ecosystems through protection, restoration and long-term management to create a legacy for the future.

Welcome to the AIG Conservation and Fisheries Directorate pages. Learn more about the diverse and special flora and fauna that call Ascension home, explore the Island's nature reserves and heritage sites and read about the work underway to conserve and restore Ascension Island's unique natural ecosystem.

Projects

In 2001 the Ascension Island Government and the UK Government signed the Ascension Island Environment Charter, outlining guiding principles and a commitment to the protection of the Island's environment. Since then AIG Conservation and Fisheries Directorate (AIGCFD) has made steady progress in conserving and promoting the Island’s unique biodiversity. Working with partners and supporters the Directorate carries out practical conservation tasks along with a number of research projects. If individuals or organisations are interested in conducting research either on Ascension Island or within Ascension's Exclusive Economin Zone, an Environmental Research Permit must first be requested and approved. Please email all enquiries and completed forms to the Directorate.

Volunteering with us

AIGCFD welcomes volunteers who are keen to get outdoors and involved with the work the directorate carries out. There are many activities throughout the year that volunteers can help with such as working with the Reserve Warden team or removing invasive species.

For those interested in volunteering or to find out what activities are available please call 66359, email the department or pop in to the Conservation Centre in Georgetown.

All volunteers will need to complete a volunteer form before undertaking any volunteering activities. These can be downloaded online or are available in hard copy from the Conservation Centre.

Booking a Tour

AIGCFD run a selection of tours depending on time of year and availability. Tours are available around the Island and Green Mountain, and during turtle nesting and crab spawning events. Turtle and land crab tours are free to island residents.

If individuals are interested in booking a tour please call 66359, email the directorate or pop in to the Conservation Centre in Georgetown.

Safeguarding Biodiversity

Find out more about our work to safeguard Ascension’s unique biodiversity in this short documentary produced by Bryony Stokes and funded by the Darwin Initiative:

Conservation image credit to AIG Conservation, Sam Weber, Jude Brown, and Steve Brown.

Meet the Teams

The Ascension Island Government Conservation and Fisheries Directorate (AIGCFD) comprises of several different teams that are listed below. Each team has their own specialty and responsibilities, working together to protect the whole of Ascension Island's biodiversity.

AIGCFD as a whole is also involved in outreach and the local community, organising public events such as family fun days, volunteer days, beach cleans and participating in the Ascension Day Fair. During the school holidays the directorate runs ‘Explorers’ for young people to discover the unique habitats and wildlife of Ascension. Throughout the school year the team regularly lead school trips and classroom lessons. AIGCFD also coordinates youth trainee internships and work experience placements available for local school students. Souvenirs are also on sale in the Conservation Centre's shop.

An annual newsletter is sent to partners and interested bodies while local people can keep up-to-date through articles in the weekly island newsletter. For those interested in receiving the newsletter, please email AIGCFD.

Information on conservation work under way on Ascension's sister island of St Helena can be found on the St Helena government website.

Terrestrial Conservation

Terrestrial Conservation

The Terrestrial Conservation Team have varied responsibilities that encompass the diversity of flora and fauna that live or spend part of their life cycle on Ascension Island. These responsibilities can often intertwine and overlap.

Seabird Team

Seabirds

Ascension Island supports nationally and internationally important populations of nesting seabirds including the endemic Ascension Frigatebird. AIGCFD monitors the health of these populations, performing regular census and monitoring key colonies to record how many chicks successfully fledge.

Unique rings and specialised tags are used to uncover where individual birds travel and can provide information about breeding and survival rates. Seabird diet is monitored as an indicator of the health of the marine ecosystem.

Plant Team

Plants

There are at least 25 plants that are native to Ascension - including 10 endemic species, of which only 7 are still alive. These endemic plants are heavily threatened by invasive plant and pest species, climate change and human activity.

The directorate strives to tackle these challenges, monitoring plant health and abundance while taking active conservation efforts through nursery work, habitat restoration, and propagation trials. Seeds and spores are collected and stored at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank as a conservation failsafe.

Turtle Team

Turtles

Ascension Island has the second largest nesting population of green turtles in the Atlantic ocean, with over 25,000 nests annually. AIGCFD conducts a long term population monitoring project studying the trends and productivity of the green turtles.

This work includes track and nest counts, measuring hatching success and recording nest temperatures. During the nesting season (December-June), guided turtle tours are run in the evening for residents and visitors to view nesting turtles.

Crab Team

Crabs

The land crab is a near-endemic of Ascension Island, found only here and on two islands off Brazil. AIGCFD’s Operation Land Crab project was created to address the lack of information on the status of the population and the threats they face.

Data is collected on spawning behaviour and growth rates during the spawning season from Feb-Apr. Individual crabs are also tagged to track migration. This baseline data can be used to develop robust population monitoring protocols and improve our ecological understanding of this species.

Mexican Thorn

Invasive Species Control

Ascension has seen many introduced species since it was first settled in 1815. Several of these species have had a major impact, reshaping habitats and ecosystems that native flora and fauna rely on.

AIGCFD controls and removes invasive plant species within clearance zones covering protected areas, areas of natural beauty and other important conservation areas.

Marine Conservation

marine team photo 800x600

Ascension Island’s marine ecosystem is relatively untouched, with an abundance of life. AIGCFD monitor the health of this environment by collecting important ecological data via abundance surveys, biological sample collection and the acoustic tagging of economically important species such as spiny lobster, rock hind grouper, and yellow spotted moray. Analysis provides insight into population dynamics, growth rates, spawning cycles and maturity of these key species. This allows effective monitoring and management to ensure this important resource is here for years to come. AIGCFD work alongside UK agencies to monitor and manage the Ascension Island Marine Protected Area.  

Reserve Wardens

Warden Team

The AIGCFD Reserve Wardens conserve the natural and cultural heritage of Ascension Island's protected areas. The wardens perform practical conservation tasks such as clearing paths and building infrastructure to enhance public enjoyment and accessibility while protecting the island's unique biodiversity. The directorate maintain historical features found within the protected areas and carry out important scientific research on key species. The wardens promote community engagement with the national park and nature reserves, providing information and organising public events.

Biosecurity

AIG

As an isolated island, one of the greatest threats to local biodiversity to the introduction of invasive non-native species (INNS). The majority of all recorded island extinctions list invasive species as the primary cause. The Conservation Department are working with partners locally and internationally to prevent, detect, control and eradicate invasive non-native species within the Ascension Island Territory. This is being done through the development of:

  • Import standards
  • Awareness and education program
  • Surveillance of imports and key freight storage areas
  • Development of control and eradication protocols

Social Media

To keep up to date with the AIG Conservation and Fisheries Directorate (AIGCFD) follow us on social media.

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Our very own giant pseudoscorpion Garypus titanius, the world’s largest pseudoscorpion, has entered the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. Reaching 1.5cm, this giant mini-beast lives on Boatswain Bird Island- a 5-hectare islet off the east coast of Ascension. The giant pseudoscorpion is under threat due to invasive predatory invertebrates such as the American cockroach Periplaneta americana.

There is speculation that the giant pseudoscorpion may once have been more widespread, inhabiting the impressive seabird colonies that covered the main island of Ascension at the time of human discovery. A combination of predation by introduced species and the collapse of most of the mainland seabird nesting colonies by feral cats may explain the potential disappearance of the giant pseudoscorpion from these areas.

With feral cats eradicated and seabird colonies re-established on the mainland, the giant pseudoscorpion may be able to expand its range.

To find out more about the world’s largest pseudoscorpion visit our website: www.ascension.gov.ac/conservation/discover-flora-and-fauna/flora-and-fauna?wpv-organism-type=inve...

Photo copyright: Nicola Weber & Laura Shearer
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Our very own giant pseudoscorpion Garypus titanius, the world’s largest pseudoscorpion, has entered the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered. Reaching 1.5cm, this giant mini-beast lives on Boatswain Bird Island- a 5-hectare islet off the east coast of Ascension. The giant pseudoscorpion is under threat due to invasive predatory invertebrates such as the American cockroach Periplaneta americana.

There is speculation that the giant pseudoscorpion may once have been more widespread, inhabiting the impressive seabird colonies that covered the main island of Ascension at the time of human discovery. A combination of predation by introduced species and the collapse of most of the mainland seabird nesting colonies by feral cats may explain the potential disappearance of the giant pseudoscorpion from these areas.

With feral cats eradicated and seabird colonies re-established on the mainland, the giant pseudoscorpion may be able to expand its range.

To find out more about the world’s largest pseudoscorpion visit our website: https://www.ascension.gov.ac/conservation/discover-flora-and-fauna/flora-and-fauna?wpv-organism-type=invertebrate 

Photo copyright: Nicola Weber & Laura Shearer

Comment on Facebook

I found a dead scorpion in my house on Ascension . . . I thought it had a pointed tail though.

Ascensions version of St Helena's giant earwig?

A large fishing net was reported to AIG Conservation by a concerned member of the public. It had washed up in a small cove near to North East Bay, one of our main turtle nesting beaches. The net had to be untangled, then cut into manageable pieces before being carried out along the rocky coast.

With the help of RAF volunteers, a total of 242kg of net and rope were removed from the cove! After 40 man hours, about a third of the net had been removed. The Conservation Department will continue to work to clear this net until it is all removed from the coast. We are very grateful to RAF volunteers that came out on a very sunny day to help the team cut and carry, and to the member of public who brought this to our attention.

This fishing net is an example of “ghost gear” – lost or discarded fishing equipment that entangle and kill marine wildlife. Fortunately when this one washed up, no wildlife was found entangled in it.
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A large fishing net was reported to AIG Conservation by a concerned member of the public. It had washed up in a small cove near to North East Bay, one of our main turtle nesting beaches. The net had to be untangled, then cut into manageable pieces before being carried out along the rocky coast. 

With the help of RAF volunteers, a total of 242kg of net and rope were removed from the cove! After 40 man hours, about a third of the net had been removed. The Conservation Department will continue to work to clear this net until it is all removed from the coast. We are very grateful to RAF volunteers that came out on a very sunny day to help the team cut and carry, and to the member of public who brought this to our attention.

This fishing net is an example of “ghost gear” – lost or discarded fishing equipment that entangle and kill marine wildlife. Fortunately when this one washed up, no wildlife was found entangled in it.

Comment on Facebook

Kaya Kolovrat

Must have come off a very large trawler... Glad you are removing it... X thank you to all! X

Well done to all involved! Many thanks. Can't wait to use the rope for a volleyball court in the turtle ponds. Something else to do now 😀

Thanks & well done. Great community spirit.

Great work but the thought of what could have happened

Well done great effort by everyone involved ❤️

Well done all - great work

Thank you all

Well done to you all

Dad were you also in the Falklands?

Shame the RA are not still there, would have that done in a day and had a BBQ. 😜🤙 Great work guys and girls.

Well done

Well done

No, there were bad people there shooting at us, I kept away from such places 🤣🥃🐎

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Comment on Facebook

A nice reminder thank you

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