Nature Seychelles had an inspiring 2021 despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. As we welcome a promising 2022, we look back at some of our achievements.
Through his global influence, Dr. Nirmal Shah provided thought leadership and input into local and international policies. This included advocating for decisive action on the management of drifting-FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) in various meetings and media outlets locally and internationally, and conclusive action to mitigate climate change effects on the small island states. The City of London Corporation and the World Economic Forum featured him as a keynote speaker during the climate week in September. The NGO Salty Hands named him Ocean Hero.
Nature Seychelles launched its nature collectible to raise funds for conservation
Conservation meets Fin-Tech
We launched a first-of-its-kind digital nature collectible - an NFT for conservation - in partnership with IUCN (International Union for Conservation for Nature) and the Porini Foundation. It raised close to $9000 to help with the management of the Seychelles magpie robin, with 54 out of the 59 NFTs having been sold to date. The international coverage was phenomenal and ensured that Nature Seychelles was the talk not only of the conservation but also the FinTech worlds. More than 100 news outlets covered the campaign, with CNN breaking the story followed by the BBC, France 24, the World Economic Forum, and Crypto News. It also created enormous awareness on conservation and financing challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lifebelts for Cousin Island Special Reserve
In 2021 we ensured that the massive downturn in eco-tourism revenues that hit our conservation programs in 2020 was not repeated by locating innovative funding. With a much-needed competitive grant from BIOPAMA, and more recently a generous targeted intervention by WWF Belgium, the Special Reserve budget was saved. Salaries and other expenses to do with running a world-class no-take protected area were assured. Visitors were allowed back to the island in March after strict health measures were implemented. To boost their skills and confidence, the Reserves' wardens received guide training.
The Reef Rescuers achieved their 2021 target of 8000 super corals in culture
Saving the Coral Reef
Our world-class 11-year old program, the Reef Rescuers, achieved their 2021 target of 8000 super corals in culture, tested new innovative techniques for coral growth, signed agreements with partners for coral reef restoration, and conducted education and awareness. An Aquaculture Manager has joined the team and planning for the construction of an Africa-first coral aquaculture facility on land is underway. The program is currently funded by the Adaptation Fund through UNDP and the Government of Seychelles. An agreement has been signed with CMA CGM, a global logistics company, for additional funding, a first-of-its-kind private sector intervention at this level for Seychelles.
Involving local people in managing protected areas
The LEAP project moved ahead despite COVID-19 restrictions. It initiated advocacy and constituency building activities including interactive public meetings in Port Glaud district, beach clean-ups, recruitment, training of new staff, local assessments, and investing in infrastructure at the Cap Ternay base to actualize the co-management process with the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority.
We provided work based attachments for students
Mentoring and training new leaders
We have continued to provide work-based attachments for students from Seychelles Tourism Academy and Seychelles Maritime Academy on Cousin Island under the Enviro-Mentor program, as well as starting two children-focused programs - LEAP Junior and Junior Reef Rescuers. We brought in international volunteers to work on the Reef Rescuers project and as Turtle Helpers on Cousin Island.
Green Health moving forward
We have the third edition of our very popular Grow and Eat Your Own Food, Seychelles book. Working with the Prisons Service, we maintained the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman.
Partnerships for research
We were recognized for our support of the Seychelles Seabird Group and Seychelles Magpie Robin Recovery Team in a paper on the barriers to effective conservation in the Western Indian Ocean. We co-wrote the first multi-site assessment of white-tailed tropicbird population status and breeding trends in Seychelles, a study of the distribution by seabirds of the cat parasite Toxoplasma, which can infect humans, and a study on the foraging of seabirds in the Western Indian Ocean, all of which were published in international journals. Our long-term, high-level scientific partnership with the Seychelles Warbler Group supporting them to publish cutting-edge research continued. We wrote a chapter in the first-of-its-kind "Active Coral Restoration" book.