Habitat Restoration

Restoring South Georgia for its endemic and native species

The introduction and spread of Norway brown rats and other rodents to South Georgia has devastated the island’s environment. Already whole areas have been decimated by rodents, which threaten to penetrate the few remaining rodent-free areas of South Georgia. SGHT’s groundbreaking Habitat Restoration Project aims to save the island’s native habitat by eradicating rodents from the entire island.  

The impact of rodents on South Georgia

The arrival of rats and other rodents on South Georgia as stowaways on sealing and whaling ships had a catastrophic effect on the island’s native bird populations. Rats eat the eggs and chicks of many ground-nesting bird species. As a result, the main island has been all but abandoned by the storm petrels, prions, diving petrels and blue petrels that once nested there. 

<Research has been done on the resourcefulness of rats who have re-invaded offshore islands in the Falklands>

The endemic South Georgia Pipit once bred throughout the island. Now it is listed as near-threatenedIts breeding is confined to rodent-free offshore islands and islets, and the few remaining main-island areas that are protected from rodent invasion by sea-level glaciers.

<Read more research on the impact of rats on offshore islands>

As a result of global warming, South Georgia’s glaciers are retreating rapidly – two glacial barriers have been lost in the last few years alone. Without these barriers, the few remaining rodent-free areas will quickly be overrun and South Georgia’s remaining bird populations will suffer the consequences<More information about South Georgia’s endemic and native species that are threatened by invasive rodents>

The SGHT Habitat Restoration Project aim is to have eradicated introduced rats and mice from South Georgia by 2015. The baiting of the island was completed on the 23rd March 2015, we hope there are now no rats left on South Georgia.  We won’t know whether we have been successful in eradicating the introduced rats unless we go further and do some intensive monitoring. 

Undertaking the Project has only been possible because of the generosity of SGHT’s donors and the support of those people who have offered their experience and expertise to help with its planning and implementation. 


The future of the SGHT Habitat Restoration Project

Thanks to you we have managed to bait the entire island. What we need to do now is to make sure that the rats are gone for good and we plan to do that by undertaking monitoring work in 2017/18  to make sure that happens. 

Ultimately, the whole of South Georgia would be overrun by rats and mice unless every single rodent is eradicated. Our objective is clear – we must remove every rodent from every piece of land on South Georgia, and leave it rodent-free for generations to come. <Read more about South Georgia’s potential for recovery following completion of the SGHT Habitat Restoration Project>