South Georgia Habitat Restoration

South Georgia Island, Antarctic

Critical Need

South Georgia is an area known for its rich diversity of wildlife and historical significance. The island is a breeding ground for Antarctic fur and elephant seals, albatross and petrels. It is also home to South Georgia pipits, pintails, petrels, and some of the world’s largest colonies of King Penguins. Unfortunately, the introduction of Norway rats brought over by whaling and sealing vessels gravely threatened the biodiversity of the island. Native plants, seeds, insects, birds and eggs quickly fell prey to the rats, and different bird species stopped using the island as their native breeding grounds.

Our Involvement

With our partners, Friends of South Georgia Island, Planeterra was able to invest over $150,000 CAD into a four-year bait and clearing habitat preservation program. Rat bait was spread by helicopter over 12,800 hectares, clearing 1,000 square kilometers of land. Planeterra also invested in one year of monitoring for the region and since the baiting, the island has been cleared of invasive species.

Impact

Monitoring efforts following the eradication program showed the island to be cleared of invasive species since 2015. According to Friends of South Georgia Island, there has already been a significant increase in the number of South Georgia pipits, pintails and petrels on the island. The eradication of rodents from the South Georgia is expected to result in the return of over 100 million breeding birds, allowing the island to reclaim its status as one of the most important seabird sanctuaries in the world.

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