Island experts praise Nature Seychelles support to long term conservation partnerships

“Long term conservation programs are difficult to maintain in small island developing states (SIDS) like Seychelles”, says Nature Seychelles CEO Dr. Nirmal Shah, a conservation practitioner with over 40 years' experience.  

A recently published study interviewing a range of conservation practitioners from the Western Indian Ocean region, the majority from Seychelles, reveals significant barriers to effective conservation of island ecosystems and supports Shah’s view.  But the paper also says, "More than one practitioner mentioned instances where nongovernmental organizations often step into the breach to ensure knowledge exchange and communication between practitioners. One example provided was of an NGO that coordinates annual meetings for focus groups on seabirds and one of the long-term endemic land bird species recovery programs, despite no longer receiving project funds to do this." 

These two stakeholder groups, the Seychelles Seabird Group (SSG) and the Seychelles Magpie-robin Recovery Team (SMART), set up two decades ago and coordinated by Nature Seychelles, have led to spectacular results for conservation of the Seychelles magpie robin and globally important seabird colonies. They are the only two long-running conservation peer groups in existence in Seychelles which meet regularly, make recommendations, and support actions.

Collecting ringing and biometrics data for the Seychelles magpie robin

Collecting ringing and biometrics data for the Seychelles magpie robin

SMART, a national-level participatory group coordinated by Nature Seychelles, brings together conservationists, managers, and representatives from each magpie inhabited island - Aride, Cousin, Cousine, Denis and Fregate, and the Ministry of Environment. SMART was put in place by Nature Seychelles when it was implementing the Seychelles Magpie Robin Recovery Plan funded primarily by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to save the Seychelles magpie robin.  SMART takes conservation actions and management decisions for the bird, although individual islands have overall management responsibility for their populations. Nature Seychelles as coordinator organises twice-yearly meetings for the group, produces a newsletter, maintains the species database for which islands submit data, and acts as a focal point for the collation of blood samples for molecular sexing of the bird and for troubleshooting of challenges faced by the species.

SSG provided practical training of field staff for seabird monitoring

SSG provided practical training of field staff for seabird monitoring

Nature Seychelles also coordinates the Seychelles Seabird Group (SSG). Seychelles is globally important for seabird conservation. However, most islands supporting breeding colonies are now small, predator-free, or remote islands. Seabirds are a big attraction on some of the islands such as Cousin. But for such visible birds, surprisingly little was known about population sizes, breeding success, and longevity, and there were knowledge gaps despite long-term research and censuses on some of the islands. With this in mind, Nature Seychelles with funding from the Norwegian Embassy and Airtel Seychelles launched the Seychelles Seabird Group (SSG) to facilitate the management and conservation of seabirds in Seychelles by supporting partners, providing training, coordinating surveys, research, and sharing information. Since its formation, partners have collected robust data on seabirds and received practical training of field staff in standardized methods laid out in the Seabird Monitoring Handbook for Seychelles developed by Nature Seychelles and funded by the Dutch Trust Fund.

For over two decades, Nature Seychelles has funded the continued coordination of SMART and SSG, while individual islands support their own expenses. 

“Conservation is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes massive stamina, tight focus, and a team behind it. SMART and SSG demonstrate the power of the many working together for a common cause. That’s not easy in a country like Seychelles where barriers identified range from lack of budgets to inadequate expertise to interpersonal issues and personal interests,” says Shah.

 

“Long term conservation programs are difficult to maintain in small island developing states (SIDS) like Seychelles”, says Nature Seychelles CEO Dr. Nirmal Shah, a conservation practitioner with over 40 years' experience.  

A recently published study interviewing a range of conservation practitioners from the Western Indian Ocean region, the majority from Seychelles, reveals significant barriers to effective conservation of island ecosystems and supports Shah’s view.  But the paper also says, "More than one practitioner mentioned instances where nongovernmental organizations often step into the breach to ensure knowledge exchange and communication between practitioners. One example provided was of an NGO who coordinates annual meetings for focus groups on seabirds and one of the long-term endemic land bird species recovery programs, despite no-longer receiving project funds to do this."

These two stakeholder groups, the Seychelles Seabird Group (SSG) and the Seychelles Magpie-robin Recovery Team (SMART), set up two decades ago and coordinated by Nature Seychelles, have led to spectacular results for conservation of the Seychelles magpie robin and globally important seabird colonies. They are the only two long-running conservation peer groups in existence in Seychelles which meet regularly, make recommendations, and support actions.

SMART, a national-level participatory group coordinated by Nature Seychelles, brings together conservationists, managers and representatives from each magpie inhabited island - Aride, Cousin, Cousine, Denis and Fregate, and the Ministry of Environment. SMART was put in place by Nature Seychelles when it was implementing the Seychelles Magpie Robin Recovery Plan funded primarily by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to save the Seychelles magpie robin.  SMART takes conservation actions and management decisions for the bird, although individual islands have overall management responsibility for their populations. Nature Seychelles as coordinator organises twice yearly meetings for the group, produces a newsletter, maintains the species database for which islands submit data, and acts as a focal point for the collation of blood samples for molecular sexing of the bird and for trouble shooting of challenges faced by the species.

Nature Seychelles also coordinates the Seychelles Seabird Group (SSG). Seychelles is globally important for seabird conservation. However, most islands supporting breeding colonies are now small, predator free, or remote islands. Seabirds are a big attraction on some of the islands such as Cousin. But for such visible birds, surprisingly little was known about population sizes, breeding success and longevity, and there were knowledge gaps despite long-term research and censuses on some of the islands. With this in mind, Nature Seychelles with funding from the Norwegian Embassy and Airtel Seychelles launched the Seychelles Seabird Group (SSG) to facilitate management and conservation of seabirds in Seychelles by supporting partners, providing training, co-ordinating surveys, research, and sharing information. Since its formation, partners have collected robust data on seabirds and received practical training of field staff in standardised methods laid out in the Seabird Monitoring Handbook for Seychelles developed by Nature Seychelles and funded by the Dutch Trust Fund.

For over two decades, Nature Seychelles has funded the continued coordination of SMART and SSG, while individual islands support their own expenses.

“Conservation is a marathon not a sprint. It takes massive stamina, tight focus and a team behind it. SMART and SSG demonstrate the power of the many working together for a common cause. That’s not easy in a country like Seychelles where barriers identified range from lack of budgets to inadequate expertise to interpersonal issues and personal interests,” says Shah.

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