FK021
Volunteer Point, East Falkland


Year of compilation: 2006

Site description
Volunteer Point is an impressive lowland peninsula on the north-east of mainland East Falkland. Extending eastward from Volunteer Green, the northern coast includes a range of low cliffs, sandy and boulder beaches with extensive kelp beds offshore. The southern side of the peninsula borders Volunteer Lagoon and includes the extensive sand flats and dunes of Lagoon Bar. To the north and west of the 1.2 mile (2 km) long Volunteer Beach are low hills and green valleys with shallow seasonal ponds and ditches. North of the rocky headlands is Cow Bay Beach, also about 1.2 miles (2 km) and with a similar aspect to Volunteer Beach.

Key biodiversity
Volunteer Green supports the largest population of King Penguins in the Falklands and this is one of the most important tourist destinations within the archipelago. The entire area is dominated by colonies of Gentoo and King Penguins, with bare turf patches marking recently deserted breeding areas and older colony sites marked by vivid green patches of fertilised grasses. Beyond the penguin colonies on the green, Volunteer Lagoon supports a variety of waterfowl. Endemic sub-species recorded in the area are the Upland Goose, Dark-faced Ground-tyrant, Falkland Pipit, Falkland Thrush and the Long-tailed Meadowlark. Several vagrants, including the Hudsonian Godwit, Stilt Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Fork-tailed Flycatcher and Blackfaced Ibis have been recorded in recent years.

Non-bird biodiversity: Southern Sea Lions can often be seen hauled out or hunting penguins just offshore in shallow water along the sand beach. One pup was born during the summer of 2002/03 in the north-west of the area. A breeding colony of 150 South American Fur Seals was counted on Volunteer Rocks in February 2004.



Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Volunteer Green is visited regularly by the seabird monitoring team from Falklands Conservation. Since November 2001, wardens have been present throughout the summer. The most pressing conservation issue is the current high level of tourism. Since the inception of this wardening programme, breeding success of birds at the site has improved considerably. It is very important that the Falkland Islands Countryside Code is followed, particularly to guard against disturbance to breeding King Penguins and the risk of fire. The fishing industry for Loligo gahi squid operates just 3 miles offshore. Beaches are frequently littered with marine debris, presumably derived mainly from this source, and problems of entanglement have been reported. There is a high population of feral cats in the area. Eradication would undoubtedly benefit breeding birds. Rats, mice and European Rabbits are also present and are affecting the populations of birds. All visitors should be informed about the dangers of accidentally introducing alien species to the Falkland Islands.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Volunteer Point, East Falkland. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 10/08/2022.