Gordon Brown Could Create Britain’s Great Barrier Reef; Reported by ZSL London Zoo

10,000 people already backing coral campaign. One of the world’s largest coral atolls, which belongs to Britain, could soon become the biggest marine protected area on Earth.

London, United Kingdom, January 29, 2010 --(PR.com)-- A three-month public consultation is underway to persuade Gordon Brown to protect the Chagos Archipelago a group of 55 tropical British islands, which lie in the heart of the Indian Ocean. This week the 10,000th person signed up in support of the campaign.

Conservationists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are calling on the British public to support the move which could result in the creation of one of the world’s greatest conservation areas.

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is part of the Chagos Environment Network (CEN) who put forward the proposal to protect the giant reef, which is twice the size of Britain (544,000 sq km area) and boasts the cleanest sea water ever recorded on Earth.

Rachel Jones Deputy Team Leader of ZSL London Zoo’s Aquarium, said: “If Gordon Brown declares the Chagos Archipelago a marine protected area it will be one of the biggest conservation breakthroughs for 100 years.

“The Chagos Archipelago is home to over 220 coral species and 1000 fish species. It’s one of the best quality reefs that we have left, and gives us a good comparison to reefs which are ailing because of climate change and rising sea temperatures.

“This underwater Garden of Eden could be a legacy that Gordon Brown will really be proud of.”

William Marsden, Chairman of the Chagos Conservation Trust, added: “Britain has a rare opportunity to protect this marvellous but fragile natural environment, creating a conservation area comparable in importance with the Galapagos or the Great Barrier Reef.

“A protected area in Chagos would contribute to a richer Indian Ocean and would benefit people living in and around it.”

The consultation period began on November 10th 2009 will and will run until February 12th 2010.

Visit www.protectchagos.org to add your support.


Editors’ Notes:

The Chagos Archipelago is in the middle of the Indian Ocean. They have belonged to Britain since 1814 (the Treaty of Paris) and are constituted as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Only Diego Garcia, where there is a base, is inhabited (by military personnel and employees). The other 54 tiny islands add up to only 16 square kms (8square miles) in total. The Chagos are the world’s largest coral atoll and 55 tiny islands in quarter of a million square miles of the world’s cleanest seas. It is Britain’s greatest area of marine biodiversity.

The Consultation began on the 10 November 2009 and will run until 12 February 2010.

Copies of this government consultation document can be found at http://www.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/21153320/mpa-consultation-101109. The address for responses from the public is biotmpaconsultation@fco.gov.uk . The deadline for comments is 12 February.

The Chagos Environment Network (CEN), a collaboration of nine leading conservation and scientific organisations is seeking to protect the biodiversity of the Chagos Islands and surrounding waters. CEN members are The Chagos Conservation Trust, The Linnean Society of London, The Marine Conservation Society, The Pew Environment Group, The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, The Royal Society, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Zoological Society of London, and Professor Charles Sheppard of Warwick University. Further information: www.chagos-trust.org

Zoological Society of London (ZSL) founded in 1826 is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide. For further information please visit www.zsl.org
ZSL London Z00
Lynsey Ford
020 7449 6288
Zoological Society of London
Regent's Park