Island Under Siege: the story of the Aldabra Clean-Up Project
A short documentary is now available to watch online, detailing the collaboration between the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) and The Queen's College, Oxford to tackle the issue of plastic pollution on the iconic Aldabra Atoll, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The documentary follows last year’s student-led expedition, which was a key part of the Aldabra Clean-Up Project (ACUP) founded by Dr Lindsay Turnbull (Fellow in Plant Sciences) and Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley (CEO of SIF). Six Seychellois and five Oxford volunteers, including Queen’s students April Burt (DPhil in Environmental Research, 2017) and Thomas Zillhardt (DPhil in Materials, 2017), worked together for five weeks to remove accumulated plastic rubbish from most of Aldabra’s turtle nesting beaches.
The film gives a moving account of the horrifying amount of trash amassed in this otherwise near-pristine site and the impacts it has on remote island ecosystems.
‘It's been just over a year since we completed the expedition but we continue working on different aspects,’ explained April, who was one of the two project leads. ‘Some of us have been visiting schools to raise awareness about the issue of plastic pollution and we were invited to a special celebratory evening at The Eden Project, Cornwall. One of the Seychelles volunteers was recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos discussing the issues faced by Seychelles and other island nations. The research we conducted alongside the expedition is now in peer-review and hopefully will be published this year and we have been working with a local artist to create a children’s animated story about the impacts of plastic rubbish in remote island ecosystems like Aldabra.’
‘The current situation is giving us time,’ she added, ‘to think about what we did and what we found out. But most importantly, we are thinking about what we could do next to help tackle the perennial problem of plastic pollution in these biodiversity-rich island ecosystems.’