Ian Stirling is the first to be inducted as a friend of Cousin Island Special Reserve. Ian was awarded the title by Nature Seychelles for his exemplary contribution to the island during these difficult times.
Ian Stirling is the first to be inducted as a friend of Cousin Island Special Reserve
For the last few weeks, Ian has lent a hand with the maintenance of the island's buildings as well as with training of the staff to carry on with their upkeep.
To recognise his contribution, Dr. Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles' Chief Executive presented Ian with the title at a short ceremony attended by the island's wardens. Ian also received a symbolic Cousin Island t-shirt.
"We decided to honour Ian for his support to the nature reserve to tackle some pressing issues. Managing a protected area is challenging at the best of times, but it is even more so now given our limited resources," Shah said.
Together with the wardens, Ian has removed rotting and other degraded materials from buildings and replaced them where necessary. He put in new doors, windows, flying insect screens, roofing sheets, and floor beams in some of the buildings, treated rust, and painted walls. These were the priority areas that needed attention, according to Eric Blais, the island's coordinator.
Ian discussing the scope of work with Dr Shah
"There's a very long list of things to be done and a limited budget," he says. "We were scratching our heads, wondering how to accomplish it all. We are grateful to Ian for giving us a hands up with all this work," he said.
The wardens were trained through learning-by-doing. "I hand them the tools and show them what to do, and they are learning as we go along. Everyone is pitching in," Ian said.
A trained ecologist with roots in Seychelles and Australia, Ian started working in the local environmental sector in the 1990s. He has a natural passion for wildlife and all things nature. He has also been involved with the diving and tourism industry and is an ardent woodcarver of items sold locally.
He got into the construction business in Australia. He currently lives in Praslin where he has developed a property for agriculture for the last 2 decades. He considers himself a proud Praslinois and has taken a keen interest in the islands that surround Praslin, Cousin being one of them.
Because of the Covid-19 situation, he found himself with extra time on his hands and decided to put it to good use by volunteering his services in construction.
After contacting Nature Seychelles to inquire whether there was anything he could do on the island with regards to the infrastructure, he was asked to help with the buildings.
Cousin Island's prevailing weather is rough on the buildings
Cousin Island's prevailing weather is rough on the buildings, which are located around the shoreline and are buffeted by wind and salt spray. Maintenance is an extremely important and ongoing activity.