As the Seychelles National Parks Authority continues with its plans to become the best managed protected area sites in Seychelles, the organisation is looking at members of the public, its partners and friends to achieve this ambitious target.

The national parks provide livelihoods for so many people either directly or indirectly, they provide a laboratory for students and scientists and a space for people to relax.

People are key to national parks, negative as they pose a threat to the very resources they are enjoying but also positive as they offer a unique opportunity to be involved in the management of parks.

The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) has always tried to foster good linkages with the public or interest groups. There are very good examples of how this has worked but there is still the need for the organisation to be more open and allow for greater involvement.

Last year, the SNPA had extensive discussions with the Praslin Business Association with regards to Curieuse Island. These discussions were fruitful and will continue during this year. Both parties agreed on a plan on how to move ahead with development on Curieuse.

SNPA chief executive Selby Remie will have his first public meeting on La Digue on May 26. This has always been in the plans but has been given urgency at the request of the La Digue Boat owners. At the same time members of the public will be able to debate about the Veuve Reserve management. Additional public meetings will continue for other parks on Mahe, Praslin and Curieuse. Meetings are also being organised for specific interest groups such as for all the hotels in or around the marine parks.

The SNPA is also looking at initiating its volunteer scheme. While the organisation receives a significant number of volunteers there is no proper framework. The scheme will have a major focus on local volunteers. The SNPA believes that through this scheme it can provide the local population with additional activities to do, activities which can be seen as a reward by volunteers for productively using their time. The authority will also explore opportunities to allow the whole family to be involved thereby contributing to address some of the social problems we currently have in the country.

Meanwhile, the SNPA would like to thank everybody who are willingly assisting the authority. Through members of the public, the SNPA is having extra eyes, ears, arms and hands. Things are moving but the feedback the SNPA is getting so far is that public expects more. They want to see action, they want to see that their views are taken seriously, they want transparency and feedback. Some members or groups have gone beyond talking and are physically helping the authority in setting up various facilities. For example, the toilet at Anse Major is as a result of a partnership with the private sector, and at present we have a contractor who has offered to repair the road leading up to one of our trails. 

The SNPA is putting in structures to address all the concerns raised so far, for example the authority is involving the public in the design of its various management plans. The authority will go further in terms of inviting the public into the periodic review of these plans (at least 6 months). People will be able to actively voice their concerns throughout the process.

The authority will agree on a modality to give feedback to participants of the public meetings at the meetings themselves. It will take into account what the public feels is best.

So keep watch out for additional communications from the SNPA and also visit the website which will be updated as new policies or offers come out.

We are looking forward to continue working with you, and we thank you all and appreciate your contributions to the SNPA.