The conservation teams of Cousin Island Special Reserve (managed by Nature Seychelles) and Cousine island (privately owned) have joined forces to find new ways of taking action for their unique environments. It is part of a three-year project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the World Bank.
Teams from both islands and Nature Seychelles headquarters staff held a workshop on Cousin in March to work through the priorities for joint action (see photographs). The joint island action aims to build partnerships and support capacity for better biodiversity management, based on a good understanding of ecosystems and species, and how people interact with them.
|Cousin and Cousine Managers signing partnership © C. Jameson|
The project is helping island managers and staff by providing new resources, networks, technical expertise and legal mechanisms to carry out conservation work. Cousin and Cousine are the focal point, and partnerships with interest groups on Praslin and other islands, and Government, are being built in.
A conservation facility on Praslin is to be constructed, to be a ‘centre of excellence’ for coordinated research, seminars, education activities involving the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles and others, and tourism promotion of Seychelles wildlife and ecology.
Cousin and Cousine are managed differently, but towards a shared goal: the conservation of Seychelles natural heritage. Eco-tourism activities are secondary but important to fund and promote the conservation activities. Each island has a different approach to ecotourism – Cousine operating at the more exclusive end of the market and Cousin providing a visitor experience and education opportunity for a wider audience of visitors.
The GEF programme has lots of exciting dimensions and new initiatives. We have consolidated the island partnership and kick-started a detailed plan of activities. For example, we are already carrying out research into the ecological impacts of invasive species, and working with Praslin communities to better understand local fisheries and the best way to use marine protection for their benefit. Soon we will provide innovative training for all practitioners involved in island conservation.
‘Despite these differences of emphasis, there is much that we can learn from each other, as we have already discovered through the workshop and other discussions’, says Joel Souyave, manager of Cousin.
‘The workshop enabled us to discuss common objectives and the project as a whole will address some of the issues that up to now we have not been able to fully address, such as effective marine conservation, threatened species translocation, sharing knowledge and working with local interest groups’, he added.
|Cousin and Cousine teams at the first planning workshop © C. Jameson|
‘The workshop gave us all a chance to provide input and comments on the project activities and make sure that the coming years will support all levels of island conservation work’, said Dr Selwyn Gendron, Executive Chairman of Cousine island.