Managing coconut plantations
Many years ago when Chagossians inhabited the islands, fields of coconut palms were planted, known as plantations, to produce food and resources for the islanders. Since the islands have become uninhabited the coconut plantations have grown so much they are pushing out the native hardwood species of trees many sea birds like to nest in.
Talks to begin dealing with this problem across the Chagos islands began back in 2009. Reducing the number of coconut palms would increase the biodiversity across the islands and ensure there is plenty of breeding habitat for the internationally important colonies of breeding seabirds.
There are about 880 hectares (about 1,320 football pitches) of coconut plantations on Diego Garcia alone that have been left to grow out of control. Coconut palms have little conservation value and outcompete many native hardwood trees, reducing the biodiversity found on the islands. Visiting scientists have begun to clear many of the coconut palms to re-establish native trees.
In the future expeditions may focus on the management of the vegetation on key islands along with expanding the rat eradication project to help restore the natural balance of nature.