The onset of the COVID 19 pandemic has heavily affected La Digue’s Tourism Industry. Consequently, tourists presently poorly frequent nature trails. Despite this, an increase in visits by locals has been observed. Due to past incidents on the trails, including tourists having ended up injured and with some even losing their lives, there was an urgency to improve the situation.

 

Marine Operation staff helping to clear the trail

In 2019, with the financial support of the Environment Trust fund (ETF), SNPA undertook the clearing of four trails, which were in a poor state of maintenance. Appropriate signage was also erected. The four trails were the Nid D’aigle, Anse Caiman, Anse Songe and Anse Reunion Trails. It has now been over six months since Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) last cleared the trails. The vegetation has slowly grown back and trees have fallen across the paths. With budgetary constraints due to the pandemic, SNPA could not afford to pay contractors to do the job again. Therefore, SNPA staffs from the Veuve Reserve, including those on the Employment Relief Scheme (URS) and those from Ile Cocos Marine Park, joined effort to maintain the trail. The team of 10 Personnel started the work on 16th June and so far have been able to clear the Nid D’aigle trail, which is 1.06 km long.

 “We are all so excited about this collaborative effort, a job that is normally carried out by private contractors. In July we will plant endemic trees on the trail to improve the biodiversity.” Josianna Rose officer in charge of Veuve Reserve explained.

The officer in charge of Ile Cocos Marine Park added, “Our marine park team have worked on Curieuse before and we are used to trail work, so for us, it was not a difficult task. As a team we are well aware of the impact that COVID 19 pandemic is having on our operations, therefore we are more than willing to help other sections in their activities”.

 It is important to note that SNPA as an organisation has been severely affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. The authority obtained financial autonomy in January 2018 and is highly dependent on tourism. The main revenue stream of SNPA is park entry fee. Since activities in the parks and reserve are at their slowest, personnel from the organisation have had to shift their operations. The clearing of the nature trails on La Digue is such an example whereby employees that normally work at sea have to take to the mountains to assist their counterparts. In these difficult times, SNPA is preparing/maintaining its facilities, waiting for the return of international visitors.

 A cleared trail