Brexit puts penguins in peril

LONDON — Brexit means … bad news for penguins.

It is a little-known fact that the U.K. is responsible for more penguins than any country on earth. The downside of that — for the penguins of Britain’s overseas territories, not to mention a host of other species — is that they too are affected by Brexit.

Wildlife protection groups in the U.K. and its overseas territories say they have “acute concern” for the future of EU-funded conservation projects for species in Britain and its far-flung territories overseas. They say there has been no firm commitment from the environment department that it will replace the EU cash after 2020 and fear the consequences for endangered species will be dire.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Falklands Conservation are both concerned that EU conservation programs will not be replaced. In particular they worry that without grants from LIFE (Financial Instrument for the Environment) and BEST (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories overseas) world-leading conservation efforts for rare and unique species will be put under threat.

“In the Falkland Islands we have a third of the world’s southern rockhopper penguins and gentoo penguins” — Esther Bertram, Falklands Conservation

LIFE funding, which the U.K. government has guaranteed only up until the end of the current EU spending window in 2020, has delivered more than £3 billion to conservation projects internationally since its founding in 1994.

It has aided the recovery of domestic species such as the capercaillie and bittern, the latter of which had been on the brink of extinction in Britain.

BEST is targeted at overseas territories like the Falklands,

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