Environment centre boost for Praslin’s conservationists

Environmental campaigning on islands away from Seychelles' main island Mahé was given a major boost last week with the opening of the US$ 350,000 Nature Seychelles/Cousine Island Ltd, Island Conservation Centre, at Amitie, Praslin. In an opening ceremony attended by Environment Minister, Ronny Jumeau, Praslin’s National Assembly Members and local environmentalists, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive, Nirmal Shah described the new centre as an environmental hub for the islands.
“This unique project has combined NGO and private sector expertise and concern for the environment, to reach out to an area sometimes overlooked by previous environmental initiatives,” said Mr Shah.
Costing over US$ 350,000 to build and equip, the new centre houses an exhibition area, conference facilities, scientific research areas and dormitory facilities for visiting researchers.
The centre will be used as an awareness area for tourists wanting to visit the islands, to house scientists and research students and as a space for lectures and workshops.
In order to ensure its long term sustainability the centre also houses two separate office areas and an apartment, which are being leased out to finance the running of the centre.
 “This centre is a base on Praslin for promoting education about the islands, island ecosystems and conservation. We want it to be a resource for Praslinois, for researchers, for tourists and anybody keen to learn more about Seychelles’ unique environment,” said Mr Shah.
The development of the Island Conservation Centre, was carried out under the Global Environment Facility/World Bank funded “Improving management of NGO and privately owned nature reserves and high biodiversity islands in Seychelles” project, which covered the Nature Seychelles managed island Cousin and the neighbouring private island Cousine.
The two islands teamed up to run a wide range of activities under the project, the largest of which was the building of the centre, on land donated by the government.
“Partnerships such as this are the future. Everyone is involved, everyone has a stake and everyone stands to benefit,” said Minister Jumeau, before slicing through a ribbon to officially open the centre.
Minister Jumeau was on a follow up visit to the centre, after his foundation stone laying trip to the site in November, 2005.
“We hope that the centre becomes a hive of activity for all sectors on the islands,” he said.
Also present at the opening of the centre was World Bank task manager, Bienvenue Rajaonson, who gave his blessing to the new environmental facilities.
“We are very happy with the work that has been done under this project. And we are very pleased with the centre,” he said.
The opening of the centre – which was built by Franky’s Construction company – was enlivened by songs from the Bwa Meduse, Mangrove Aquatic and Ile des Palm Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles.

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