An exciting new project will deliver new and innovative results for Seychelles conservation areas. Nature Seychelles this week signed a grant agreement for financial support to carry out activities under the project that will strengthen current approaches to protected areas.
The grant has been received as part of the project, "Strengthening Seychelles Protected Area System through NGO Management Modalities" funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and being implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Environment and Transport, through the Department of Environment, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The project is aimed at strengthening the management framework of Seychelles' Protected Areas, which fall under the administration of a number of different government institutions, parastatals and environmental NGOs. It will create synergies between current government conservation efforts and those of non-government partners in the establishment of new protected areas, and improve the management of existing terrestrial-marine protected areas.
Present at the signing ceremony, which took place at Independence House, was designated Minister Joel Morgan and Principal Secretary Didier Dogley, who signed the agreement with Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles' Chief Executive. Others were the UNDP Regional Representative Leyla Tegmo-Reddy and representatives of three other NGOs - Seychelles Islands Foundation, Marine Conservation Society Seychelles and Green Islands Foundation who also signed grant agreements to carry out activities under the project.
Speaking after the ceremony, Nirmal Shah said activities his organisation will undertake are restoration of the coral reef habitat around Cousin Island Special Reserve, investigation into the fish spawning aggregations near Cousin and work to demarcate Marine Important Bird Areas.
Although the reefs of Cousin Island had a very high coral cover and the highest fish biomass of any marine reserve in the granitic islands of Seychelles, a bleaching event in 1998 dramatically reduced coral cover. This and the marine habitat require urgent restoration.
Fish spawning aggregations of several species that are located near the Cousin Special Reserve are to be investigated to see whether the Reserve plays an important role in fish movements and in protection of small fish.
Marine Important Bird Areas are areas in the ocean which are important for seabirds. Seychelles has globally significant colonies of seabirds. “They are in fact marine animals because they feed at sea, so we need to know where these areas are,” says Nirmal Shah. This would have linkages with tuna fisheries as well.
The grant will ensure that new and innovative approaches are taken to conserve our biodiversity especially through protected areas.