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Champagne launch for the Department of Everything

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Isabel Peters cracks open the fizz at the environment directorate's launch, with Tara Pelembe
Isabel Peters cracks open the fizz at the launch of St Helena's new Environmental Management Directorate

You’d be hard-pressed to better Tara Pelembe’s words on St Helena’s environment:

“It is the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, the food that we eat, the energy we use in our houses, the landscape we enjoy, the sea where we fish and also importantly, our culture and our inspiration, our history and our business.”

Tara shared her description at the official launch of St Helena’s new Environmental Management Directorate – which plays a central role in the island’s future.

Councillor Raymond Williams said: “As the airport project progresses and the island develops its economy, we will need to ensure that the environment, one of St Helena’s key tourism products, is effectively managed.”

guests at a reception in the decorated courtyard at Essex House
Guests celebrate at Essex House

Environmental protection is one of three national goals under St Helena’s new Sustainable Development Plan.

UK Environment Minister Richard Benyon joined the opening ceremony via video link.

He stressed the importance to the UK of the overseas territories’ unique ecosystems and endemic flora and fauna, referring specifically to the St Helena wirebird and the bastard gumwood, just two of the species only found on the island.

A UK government paper was published in January on the environment in the UK Overseas Territories.

Governor Mark Capes said the Coalition government’s positive approach to the overseas territories was most welcome, and had brought a “sea change” in support across Whitehall.

Staff site on steps at Essex House
They've got a big job: St Helena's environmental team

“There will be new economic and social opportunities as we develop our tourism infrastructure,” he said, “but it is essential that we take great care to manage our precious environment on this jewel of an island in the South Atlantic.”

Tara Pelembe will head the new directorate. She said it would take the lead on creating a National Environmental Plan “for the whole island, and not only for government”.

Isabel Peters, the new Manager of Environmental Assessment and Advocacy, popped the champagne cork at Essex House in Jamestown to declare the directorate officially open.

All present – including members of St Helena National Trust – shared a specially-made cake.

The launch happened on Monday, 16 April 2012

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St Helena Government

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