Seychelles yesterday celebrated World Protected Areas Day. To mark the occasion, a group of children from primary and secondary schools marched in the streets of Victoria calling for the preservation of areas which have been demarcated as protected ones.

The procession which started at the Ministry of Environment at Mont Fleuri and ended at the National Library after passing through the Revolution, Independence and 5th June avenues,  was accompanied by written as well as verbal slogans on the theme chosen for this year which is: ‘Healthy ecosystems through protected areas’. The need to protect our oceans, forests, marine parks and the species which live in them were among the calls of the children. Each school also had the opportunity to present a sketch on a particular environment concern.

At the National Library, the march which had been led by the principal secretary for Environment Alain Decommarmond and the chief executive (CEO) of the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) Flavien Joubert was joined by the Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Didier Dogley and other invitees who included members of the National Assembly (MNAs) from certain districts. The children presented Minister Dogley with the first edition of the Wildlife Club magazine depicting the outer islands.

This was after Neil Commettant of Beau Vallon secondary school had in what he had called “the cry of my heart” prayed for the protection of Seychelles’ rich biodiversity. As he rightly said, the future of our country depends on just that.

Minister Dogley warned that while we celebrate Protected Areas Day for the first time in Seychelles, “the world is at a crossroad where we are approaching the sixth global extinction of biodiversity”.

He added that as we lose biodiversity, may it be land or marine, we have to protect it and the best way he said is to use the areas we have and promote their species and ecosystem.

He remarked that while protected areas are important as part of our natural heritage or water sources, many people do not understand their importance and rather ask why they are not used for development.

Commenting that countries which do not have a rich biodiversity are among the poorest in the world, the minister reminded that Seychelles will be a poorer country if we do not protect its environment.

He asked the children to thus send the message to others that protected areas are important for our country.

Observing that while 47% of the country is protected this is the case for only 1% of the marine space, Minister Dogley talked of plans to increase the area to 30%. With Seychelles’ debt-for-nature swap programme, he said, more money will be used to finance protected areas. This will include for an ongoing project with the Islands Development Company (IDC) for some outlying islands which have never been protected before.

Minister Dogley also announced the Nature Reserves and Conservancy Bill which will be presented to the National Assembly for approval this year. The Bill, he said, will bring about the legal framework necessary to protect our biodiversity.

The Protected Areas Day is also being commemorated by an exhibition which will be opened until today at the Carrefour des Arts. It shows various actions being carried out by different organisations in favour of environment conservation in Seychelles. These include Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF), Marine Conservation Society of Seychelles (MCSS), Green Island Foundation (GIF), Plant Conservation Action Group, SNPA, Island Conservation Society (ICS), Denis Island, North Island, the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) and the Global Environment Facility programme of the government of Seychelles and United Nations Development Program (GOS-UNDP-GEF).

Pas de demi-mesure, mais bien ½ million d’amende et 2 ans de prison ferme !

Après les nouveaux hologrammes de sécurité sur les nouveaux billets de banque seychellois, c’est au tour du coco-de-mer d’avoir le même niveau de protection.

Difficile de falsifier la plus grosse graine du monde, le coco-de-mer, pour ceux qui essaieraient avec ce nouveau dispositif. Non seulement, il implique une meilleure traçabilité, mais en plus, cela permettra de mieux surveiller le commerce du coco-de-mer. D’ailleurs, une nouvelle procédure commerciale va rentrer en vigueur en même temps que l’hologramme dès le 1er février prochain.

Ces changements au niveau de la gestion du coco-de-mer interviennent afin de protéger encore plus cette espèce afin de maintenir sa valeur écologique et endémique. C’est aussi un nouveau levier pour lutter contre son commerce illégal.

So Christmas is over and its back to work and school. Nothing left to celebrate? Not to worry, we have you covered. January 31 is National Protected Areas Day and a great opportunity to explore our National Parks!

Seychelles is blessed with rich and unique biodiversity. It is what contributes to make Seychelles such an attractive destination for our foreign visitors. Currently, Seychelles has 38 Protected Areas (go on, see if you can name them all), some are marine or shell reserves, some terrestrial and some are both. Together they total over 55,000 hectares. They represent places of preservation for rare or endemic species, ensuring that these are available for future generations to enjoy.

Protected Areas are not just conservation spaces. Many are attractions for visitors to our islands. Marine areas may include fish nurseries that replenish fish stocks and so benefit the fishing industries. Rivers within the national parks naturally filter and regulate the water supply, providing residents with a consistent clean water source. Equally important, national parks support healthy living – walking the nature trails can be more fun than road running or treadmills. They offer quiet places to reflect and reconnect with the sounds and smells of nature.