Research project will benefit Cayman

John Bothwell, a local Department of Environment staff member, is working toward a Master of Science in Conservation and Biodiversity at the new Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter in Cornwall.

Funding for his studies is provided by the Overseas Territories Environment Programme, a joint initiative of the UK’s Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in partnership with the UK Overseas Territories, said a GIS press release.

‘I am very pleased that the Cayman Islands have been able to directly benefit from this opportunity for post-graduate study provided by OTEP. We are particularly excited that John will be taking a more in-depth look at one of the DoE’s long-term data sets (the annual shallow water Queen Conch survey which has been running since 1988) in his thesis project,’ said Director of Environment, Mrs. Gina Ebanks-Petrie.

The programme requires students to return to their home countries in spring 2006 to conduct individual research projects aimed at directly assisting relevant conservation efforts.

The goal is to reduce the impact of loss of biodiversity through a combination of species and habitat research and management, the release said.

Together with two other UK Overseas Territories post-graduate students, Rhon Connor from Anguilla and Tara Pelembe from Ascension Island, Mr. Bothwell is covering a wide range of exciting concentrations including a two-week field trip to Kenya.

‘One outstanding aspect of the programme is its use of outside lecturers; we benefit from their ability to pass along practical recommendations based on years of work in their chosen fields,’ said Mr. Bothwell.

‘These are often as important to broadening a student’s skill-base as the detailed academia taught from textbooks. It is very forward-looking and prudent of the Overseas Territories Environment Programme to provide such scholarships that will effectively broaden and deepen the environmental skill-base in the Cayman Islands and Britain’s other Overseas Territories.’