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British Indian Ocean Territory

Linsey Billing


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The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) is one of 14 British Overseas Territories. There is no permanent population in BIOT, but Diego Garcia, the largest of the 58 islands hosts a joint UK-US military facility. The British Indian Ocean Territory Administration’s mission is the running of this Territory. It is administered from London through its Commissioner who is appointed by HM The Queen. The day-to-day running of the Territory is carried out by an Administrator and team.

The BIOT Administration is committed to conserving BIOT’s status as a reference site for global conservation efforts and as a refuge and point of recovery in the region. Management efforts currently focus on terrestrial and marine biodiversity and that ecological integrity of BIOT is protected, enhanced and restored as far as practicable.

The marine habitats of BIOT and its Marine Protected Area (MPA) include 66,000km2 of shallow reefs and associated habitats. The deep waters around BIOT include an exceptional diversity of geological structures, such as vast deep-sea plains and limestone platforms, more than 80 seamounts and about 240 deep-sea knolls, mid-ocean ridges and trenches deeper than 6,000m.

Offshore shallow water habitats include what may be the largest contiguous tract of largely unimpacted coral reefs in the world. In addition to the coral atolls there are a number of shallow reef banks, and reef habitats include shallow reef flats and lagoon reefs, deep channels, offshore reef slopes and deep coral habitat. Extensive seagrass habitat is locally widespread. Deeper water areas include an important array of deep seamounts. The full extent of the MPA includes large areas of pelagic waters important for many important species including tuna, billfish and sharks.

BIOT is home to 975 IUCN red-listed species, 129 of which are classified as being at high risk of extinction. Key species include internationally important seabirds such as sooty terns, brown boobies and red-footed boobies; the critically endangered hawksbill turtle and the endangered green turtle; the Chagos brain coral and the Chagos clownfish; and the world’s biggest arthropod, the coconut crab.

IYOR Activities Plan

We are planning a weekend of activities on 17/18 November on Diego Garcia to celebrate IYOR and to raise awareness about coral reefs amongst those working on the island.

We ran a “design an official postage stamp” competition for children from March to May. The winners were announced in June, and the stamps were issued in September. For more information please see theBIOT website.

The 4 winning stamp designs. Now available for use and purchase.
Last Updated: October 25, 2018