Today we’re celebrating International Women’s Day to recognise the remarkable contributions of some of the most inspiring women working in partnership with the RSPB on nature conservation across some of the UK Overseas Territories. Dale Richards, Atlantic Guardians Communications Lead, takes up the story. 

Liza Fowler, Cloud Forest Invertebrate Specialist, St Helena

Liza Fowler carrying out invertebrate monitoring ©

Liza is an invertebrate specialist working in the remote UK Overseas Territory of St Helena. Liza’s role includes surveying and monitoring specific endemic invertebrate species to learn more about their ecology, as well as liaising with overseas entomologists.

She specialises in the unique invertebrates that live in the cloud forest including the Spiky Yellow Woodlouse and Blushing Snail. Find out more about the St Helena Cloud Forest Project.

Liza said:

“I’m fascinated by invertebrates, their benefits and threats and survival strategies, I soon realised that I found invertebrates more interesting than the bigger, charismatic animals like Lions and Tigers, and so my passion grew for invertebrates. After all, St Helena has over 400 endemic species that need protecting!

There are many aspects of my work that I enjoy, especially carrying out surveys which allows me to see these creatures in the wild and monitor endemic species. I enjoy finding out about their ecology as many of our endemic species are understudied, and it is very exciting discovering new species, and rediscovering rare species.”

The Spiky Yellow Woodlouse, one of many unique species on St Helena. © Ed Thorpe (

Winema Sanders-Penn, Executive Director, Turks and Caicos National Trust

Winema Sanders-Penn © Turks and Caicos National Trust.

Winema Sanders-Penn is the Executive Director of the Turks and Caicos National Trust. Winema’s role includes enhancing and strengthening the organisation, managing, and developing heritage sites, securing and developing income streams, raising public awareness and advocating for the islands' heritage at the highest political levels and with a wide range of stakeholders.

East Caicos is the largest undeveloped wilderness area in the Caribbean, and Winema works with the RSPB and Marine Conservation Society on supporting a community-led effort to secure protection for this wildlife-rich area.

Winema also works with the RSPB to develop and enhance biosecurity across the Turks and Caicos Islands with a view to safeguarding endemic amphibians and reptiles, particularly the Endangered Turks and Caicos Rock Iguana. Find out more about saving rock iguanas.

Winema said:

"I was taught to value and treasure the environment as a child because we only get one earth. Instilling the same passion for the marine and terrestrial environment into our young people with the same enthusiasm for the local and global environment is essential. My vision is for our international community to become active stewards of their environment and safeguard our treasured environment for future generations.” 

Turks and Caicos Rock Iguana. © Sarah Havery/RSPB.

Marie Repetto, Whale monitoring, Tristan da Cunha

Marie Repetto © Tristan da Cunha.

Marie has been recording whale sightings around the world’s most remote inhabited island of Tristan da Cunha for over a decade. Marie has made a significant contribution to the knowledge and understanding of the whales and dolphins that use the waters around Tristan. Over eleven species of whale have been recorded including Southern Right Whale and the rare and elusive Shepherd’s Beaked Whale. Find out more about Tristan’s Marine Protection Zone.

Marie said,
“My fascination for wildlife started when I was young, anything about nature I would read or watch on TV, especially documentaries by Sir David Attenborough. I love walking and taking photos of wildlife.

I work in Tristan da Cunha’s Rock Lobster factory in an office with a wonderful view of the ocean! Over the years I became more interested in whale watching or anything that I see: including schools of flying fish or a feeding frenzy by the Yellow-nosed Albatross.

Making notes in my diary of my sightings just became a habit, some sightings I have missed but, if possible, I try to take photos. I only had a 35mm camera when I started recording so the pictures sometimes were not clear. The most memorable sights were of a whale breeching, with a backdrop of the volcano, this I've seen twice! And whilst sitting on the cliff, I saw a Humpback Whale pass the harbour, close enough to see the barnacles on its skin! Living on Tristan means I have the privilege of being able to whale watch from my house and my office! I love it!"

Humpback whale © Andy Schofield/RSPB.

The RSPB’s work in the UK Overseas Territories
The RSPB works with partners across the 14 UK Overseas Territories. The territories range from coral reefs and tropical forests to wind-swept volcanic islands and each territory is packed with rich and diverse wildlife, many of which are found nowhere else on earth!

The RSPB has been working in partnership with territory governments and conservation organisations for decades supporting them with things like research, monitoring, capacity building and community outreach. You can find out more about the RSPB’s work on our UK Overseas Territories on our website by searching ‘Overseas Territories’.

Diversity and inclusion in nature conservation
This blog features three inspiring women working in our UK Overseas Territories, overcoming barriers to work in highly skilled, specialist roles in nature conservation. Today is International Women’s Day and the campaign is celebrating diversity, inclusion and ‘equity’. The campaign theme this year is #EmbraceEquity.

Continue reading
Marine conservation on a global scale – the International Marine Protected Areas Congress
Meet two inspiring horticulturists fighting to save a Critically Endangered bird from extinction
Meet the world’s most remote Marine Protection Zone Officer

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