There are three Ramsar sites in the Seychelles, one of which one is located in the Morne Seychellois National Park, which is managed by The Seychelles National Park’s Authority (SNPA) and that is the high altitude wetland at Mare Aux Cochons. This important site is one of six, which the authority will be cleaning for the upcoming Clean up The World Campaign, on Friday 14th September. The Mare Aux Cochons trail is very popular with tourists and local visitors, despite being located in a protected area it is not spared from littering. So for Clean up The World, SNPA will dispatch a large team to de-litter the trail and additionally clear vegetation growing around the ruins.

 

The Ramsar Site

It is no coincidence that SNPA is responsible for the management of a Ramsar site. The Authority is the custodian of some of the most biologically sensitive areas in the country including the largest protected area on Mahe, The Morne Seychellois National Park which covers 20 % of the largest Island of the archipelago, encompassing 7 districts.  Mare Aux Cochons was designated as a Ramsar site, on 2nd February 2010 and has an area officially listed as 1 hectare, but in reality the wetland covers 0.315 ha, it is in fact the second smallest Ramsar site in the world. The site is one of the most important watershed on the island and plays a role in maintaining the biodiversity of the Western Indian Ocean Ecoregion. Being responsible for its management, SNPA ensures the conservation of several species of global conservation concern, such as; the critically endangered Vateriopsis seychellarum (bwadfer) endemic to the Seychelles, the endangered Seychelles Scops Owl (syer), as well as the vulnerable Seychelles frog (Sooglosus sechellensis).

Compared to before 1970, there is currently little commercial activity being carried out at Mare-Aux-Cochons the site is mainly used for conservation, restoration and eco-tourism. SNPA has a team of workers especially for the National parks and their main task is to maintain trails, including the popular Mare Aux Cochons. The team along with other forestry staff ensures that invasive plants around the wetland are controlled. They also ensure that there are no illegal activities such as timber harvesting taking place. But since the most popular activity in this site is ecotourism, they ensure that the trails and surroundings are in good condition for optimum visitor experience. SNPA is currently working with a consultant to draft a management plan for the National Park inclusive of the Ramsar site.

Seychelles became signatory to the Convention on Wetlands (RAMSAR) in March 2005.  The Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. The first Ramsar site to be designated in Seychelles was the Port Launay Mangrove and that was in November 2004. The country’s other Ramsar site is found on Aldabra.

 

SNPA staff maintaining the Mare-Aux- Cochons Nature Trail

 

A kiosk at Mare-Aux-Cochons