We held our second Annual General Meeting in June. Looking back over the last year much has been achieved not least in establishing ourselves in the decision making processes and actively participating on issues pertaining to the cultural, built and natural environments and Island strategic development generally. It is also worth reminding ourselves however that we are a very young organisation that needs support in order to grow. We have a lot to learn and a lot to do to succeed with our legal mandate to … conserve the Island's natural, built and cultural heritage. And to this end we appreciate the advice, support and ideas that our members and associated organisations can give.
We recognised in starting up the Trust that there was a need to establish a significant membership base at an early stage if we were to demonstrate stakeholder support. We also accepted that this would be difficult, as we would be asking for people to take a leap and subscribe to become a member of a body that may produce no immediate tangible benefits. Our initial target was to encourage 100 Islanders to become Members, which at the time represented 2% of the population. At the AGM total membership was 130 however as membership is renewable from the 1 April annually, today our membership is much lower. (Note in main body of newsletter to describe the change in membership renewal). A good membership base provides a strong signal to Government of the value that Civil Society places on the Island's heritage and it is important that we can express this and give you a voice. If you have not yet renewed your membership we hope you will consider the value that your membership brings to conserving St Helena's special heritage and make your commitment count.
This year is the last of three years of funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Overseas Territories Environment Fund. Meeting the annual running costs of £17,150 is not going to be easy and our current funding surplus is way below this figure. A request has been made to the St Helena Government for financial assistance from October 2005 to meet recurrent costs, including the salary of the Director and Administrative Assistant. A decision is still pending.
We've benefited a great deal over the last seven weeks from the visits of Adrian Mallia , an Environmental Strategic Support Adviser with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) who has provided technical support to the Environmental Planning Development Section of the Development and Economic Planning Department (DEPD), other sections of Government and to us. We also enjoyed the visit of Dr. Mike and Ann Pienkowski. Mike is the Chairman of UK Overseas Territories Conservation Forum (UKOTCF) and over the last two weeks they have provided support with the implementation of the Environment Charter, signed up to by HMG and SHG in 2001, through a series of meetings and Workshops We do appreciate these links with the outside world.
Enjoy reading, and many thanks for your support.
Dr. Rebecca Cairns-Wicks, President.