Nature Seychelles has successfully implemented a mangroves rehabilitation project, which it was carrying out at the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman. This was revealed during a workshop held at the organisation's headquarters on 22nd October to share best practices learned under the project. The rehabilitation was done under the Mangroves for the Future (MFF) programme, which Seychelles is part of, with both Nature Seychelles and MFF jointly funding the project.
The project, called Mangroves for Mankind, was conceived to provide Seychelles with a demonstration site that combines mangrove restoration with education, recreation and livelihood and skills training.
According to Project Coordinator Robin Hanson, major milestones have been achieved including the introduction of two new species of mangroves to the site - with over 500 mangrove seedlings growing and the propagation of more in the mangrove nursery, the transformation of the wetland habitat and the increase in the diversity and number of fauna.
"The purpose of the project was simply to show that coastal rehabilitation can be undertaken anywhere in the Seychelles, even in a man-made site," said Dr. Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive.
Through this project, others, particularly those undertaking coastal development, can learn how to maintain an ecologically sound environment, Shah added, saying that Nature Seychelles as a certified training institution is available to teach these skills.
The project has already provided skills training to 14 adult participants from vulnerable groups.
260 children also visited the site and joined in planting and learning about mangroves, with another 72 from vulnerable groups also participating. 100 people volunteered during school days and open days.
Speaking about the enhancement of the site, Robin said that major work was undertaken to remove invasive species particularly the Typha grass, which was out-competing the mangroves. Several control methods were tested, which could be valuable for people undertaking this type of work.
Seawater supply to the mangroves and water level management for the wetland was also greatly improved. This was an important part of the work as the site had an issue with seasonal drying and localised extinction of the aquatic community during the dry seasons.
The reserve also had extensive work done with excavators digging scrapes, ditches, pools, and mudflats. This not only improved the habitat for wildlife but also enhanced the viewing potential for visitors. Since then a number of bird species not seen on the site have been spotted.
On-site interpretative artwork that explains the importance of a healthy mangrove ecosystem and showcases the key wildlife species completed the project.
Participants at the workshop drawn from government and other NGOs had the opportunity to see these and the project successes during a tour of the site.
"I’m really impressed by the changes brought about by the Nature Seychelles project team to this unique wetlands landscape which is already benefitting animals and plants species, as well as facilitating access for people to actively participate in the project activities and better interact with nature. Nature Seychelles has done an excellent job out of the small grant from the MFF," said Ms. Lyndy Bastienne, the MFF National Coordinator in Seychelles.