UK designates Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean territories

UK designates Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean territories

12 August 2001
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Crown dependencies)

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Diego Garcia (35,424 ha. 07º19’S, 072º28’E) is the southernmost atoll of the Laccadive-Maldives-Chagos atoll chain. The archipelago has an exceptionally low level of pollution and provides a standard for measuring the impact of human pressures on other coral reef systems. The part of the atoll which is not included in the Ramsar site is the area which, under a 1976 UK/USA agreement, is set aside for military uses as a US naval support facility. The site qualifies for the List under 7 of the 8 Ramsar Criteria and is a particularly good example of a relatively unpolluted coral reef system in a near-natural state, of special value for maintaining the genetic and ecological diversity of the region, especially its marine life. It provides habitat for marine flora and fauna at critical stages of their biological cycles, including the threatened Hawksbill and Green Turtles, and regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds, including Greater frigate, Red-footed boobies, brown and lesser noddies, amongst others. A feral cat eradication programme is under way and a rat eradication programme is planned. The site’s international importance is legally recognized in the BIOT Conservation Policy Statement (1997) which specifies that it will be managed in accordance with the requirements of the Convention subject only to defense requirements. This is the Convention’s 1076th Ramsar site and the UK’s 162nd.