Brownsea formally joins SMILO

Stakeholders from Brownsea's SMILO committee

There’s some exciting news from the island as we recently celebrated the official partnership of a global alliance on Brownsea.

As Poole Harbour’s largest island, Brownsea formally joined the Small Islands Organisation (SMILO), a French-based NGO working to support small islands across the world as we move towards more sustainable management.

A sunny July day saw the official signing of the ‘Cooperation Agreement’ and declaration take place on the island, with key island stakeholders invited to join Brownsea’s SMILO committee.

The aim of the committee is to agree a strategic plan, a set of actions and deliver on them. As well as National Trust, the main stakeholders include:

  • John Lewis and Partners, who operate Brownsea Castle as a hotel
  •  Dorset Wildlife Trust, who manage part of the island, including the intenationally important Brownsea Lagoon
  • Two charities - the Scout and Guide Heritage Trust and Brownsea Open Air Theatre
  •  The Church of England, who run the island church
  •  Island residents
  • Dorset Council

What is SMILO?

SMILO, set up by the French government agency responsible for caring for the French coastline the ‘Conservatoire du Littoral’, fundraises and offers practical support to islands around the world.SMILO aims to support sustainable development for island populations and their environments in areas such as water and sanitation, waste, energy, biodiversity, landscape and island heritage.

What does it mean for Brownsea?

National Trust has been working in partnership with the Conservatoire du Littoral and Brownsea has been a member of SMILO for many years, but we’re now working towards SMILO’s ‘Sustainable Island’ label and currently participating in two projects: ‘Women on Islands leading sustainable tourism’ and a Technical Exchange project both of which involve three other islands from Europe and North Africa.

The Sustainable Island label is an exciting move forward for the National Trust and key stakeholders on Brownsea Island and gives international recognition to small islands whose efforts converge towards better management and preservation of natural resources.The label is an opportunity to raise awareness of the issues of preservation on small islands and to promote good ecological practice. There are currently 18 small islands across the globe who joined SMILO with a view to obtaining this label.

" I’m absolutely delighted that we are creating this new way of working cooperatively to manage the island more sustainably including tackling the causes of climate change. Many of us are already doing great work on this but I believe we can achieve a lot more by working together. The experience of other islands around the world will also be invaluable to help us learn from best practice and, maybe, to hear about things that haven’t worked!."
- Angela Cott, General Manager, Brownsea Island
" As Brownsea Island’s Open Air Theatre company for nearly 60 years we at BOAT recognise the positive value of working hand in hand with the National Trust to pro-actively enhance the ecological future of our much loved home. As Chairman of the theatre’s trustees I am now particularly excited to be at the heart of things on the SMILO committee, and hope to make the most of this opportunity to work together with like-minded people to ensure that true sustainability and all it entails becomes a reality for this uniquely special place."
- Roy Sach, Brownsea Island Open Air Theatre (BOAT)

With the challenges that climate change is bringing to us all around the world, this new global alliance to promote sustainability and better living for both us and the ecological world brings a new glimmer of hope and joined up thinking that could potentially be the lead for change. If successful sustainable development can be put to practice in strategically more challenging environments such as small islands, then perhaps it can serve as a set of guiding principles for others to follow.