On the 2nd of February, individuals, groups and organisations the world over will be marking World Wetlands Day; Nature Seychelles will not be left out as it runs the only managed urban wetland in Seychelles – The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman. World Wetlands Day is marked on the day of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971 in the city of Ramsar in Iran.
World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands to the environment, wildlife and certainly, humans. Over the years, the Ramsar secretariat has worked to provide pertinent information and materials to individuals, conservation groups and governments who have in turn launched numerous activities including competitions, nature walks, media campaigns, creating policies and so forth, all aimed at emphasising the value of wetlands.
One of the visitors from North East Point home for the elderly taking a rest during a recent visit to The Sanctuay
A little over two years ago, Nature Seychelles embarked on a one and a half year wetland rehabilitation project at The Sanctuary in Roche Caiman with co-funding from the Mangroves For the Future (MFF) initiative and work carried out with the generous support of Sun Excavations of Mahe. But since it took over the wetland some 9 years ago Nature Seychelles has invested millions of rupees in enhancing the Sanctuary to an ever increasing diversity of nature, both fauna and flora as well as a Park for People.
In marking this year’s World Wetland Day, Nature Seychelles will dedicate the day to revamping the wetland at The Sanctuary in Roche Caiman. Pupils from the International School Seychelles will be participating in the day’s activities. The site will be cleared of any litter that may have blown in or flown in through the channel that connects the site to the sea and these will be sorted out with the aim of re-using or recycling as much of it as possible. The pupils will also help to plant more mangrove seeds and clear invasive plant specie.
Students from Takamaka Primary School learning about mangrove seeds and trees at The Sanctuary
The Sanctuary is regularly host to school groups including wildlife club members, primary and secondary school science classes and University students, whose teachers hope to expand the students’ learning experience. Apart from educational purposes, The Sanctuary is visited by both local and international visitors for pleasure including but not limited to bird lovers, conservation organisations, family groups and those from the home of the elderly.
More importantly the wetland in Roche Caiman has proven on several occasions that it is fantastic in moderating the effects of extreme weather conditions, more so flooding. The entrance to The Sanctuary and the adjacent main road have in the past been rendered inaccessible due to flooding caused by heavy rains. With the rehabilitation and maintenance of the wetland this in now a thing of the past.
A number of bird species have made The Sanctuary their home
Apart from flood protection, wetlands are vital in preventing drought, protecting coastlines, as well as water purification and flow maintenance. Wetland habitats are also home to fish, birds, insects and other species as has been witnessed with the colonisation of The Sanctuary in Roche Caiman over the years by various animals. Wetlands are proving even more important with climate change as they are important in storing carbon. This year’s theme for marking the day ‘Wetlands for our future’ could not be more fitting.