The award-winning Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, managed by Nature Seychelles has gained support from Mangroves for the Future (MFF), an international initiative that stretches from Asia to Seychelles. The MFF has approved USD 25,000 in financial support to Nature Seychelles to carry out a mangrove rehabilitation project called Mangroves for Mankind at the Sanctuary. Nature Seychelles is also providing co-funding for the project aimed at improving the wetland ecosystem.
"Improvement of the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman will provide Seychelles with an enhanced demonstration site that integrates mangrove restoration with education, recreation and livelihood opportunities," Nature Seychelles Chief Executive Dr. Nirmal Shah said.
The support comes as part of the Small Grant Facility of MFF aimed at investing in coastal communities and ecosystems that was launched in June 2008.
A contract to set things in motion was signed on 30 May 2012 by Dr. Martin Varley, Nature Seychelles' Community and Stakeholder Action Coordinator and Denis Matatiken, the Chairperson for the National Coordinating Body for MFF in Seychelles, in the presence of other grantees, Lyndy Bastienne the MFF Coordinator in Seychelles, and members of the coordinating body.
Mangroves are one of the world’s most unique ecosystems living in the transition zone between the ocean and land. They are also among the world’s most productive ecosystems, supporting a wealth of life from fish to people, and are the the final defence against land and sea degradation.
Seven species of mangroves are found in Seychelles. They protect shorelines by trapping sediments eroded from the land and also against wave erosion. They also offer some protection to the extensive coral reef system. The complex network of coastal ecosystems has a critical role to play in maintaining Seychelles biodiversity.
Although MFF has chosen mangroves as its flagship ecosystem, the initiative embraces all coastal ecosystems, including coral reefs, estuaries, lagoons, wetlands, beaches and seagrass beds. The MFF initiative began after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and builds on a history of coastal management efforts before and after the tsunami.
The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman has a range of coastal habitats including a small area of mangrove and a lagoon which attracts waders and migrant birds as well as harbouring native aquatic biodiversity.
"Although the reserve already contains a component of mangrove, we would like to enhance this habitat and rehabilitate a much larger area of coastal wetland on the site with mangroves," Dr. Varley said. In addition, a managed system of seawater flow into the site, vital for a healthy mangrove ecosystem, is required for the mangroves to thrive. This will be enhanced by the project.
It is expected that the mangrove restoration will be carried out with various communities, including creating linkages and synergies with participants of other projects being carried out in the site including the Greening Livelihoods and Green Health programmes. The project will also develop some on-site and online interpretive and educational material detailing the process of mangrove restoration and the value of mangrove habitats for demonstration purposes.
Once complete the rehabilitated area would further enhance the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman as an easily accessible site of excellence for wetland management in Seychelles, and will be included in other ongoing and planned programmes and projects. The Sanctuary is part of a wider community focused resource provided by Nature Seychelles, including the Heritage Garden, a demonstration community garden. It has gained an international reputation and secured “The George”, the International Innovation Prize last year.