One of the mandates of the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is to implement sustainable forestry practices. The authority is responsible for managing forest resources including timber in and outside of the national parks and has established a number of timber plantations. It sells forest products such as bamboo, latanier leaves and casuarina poles to the public but timber is only sold to licensed merchants.

To prevent illegal harvesting of timber, forestry staff conduct regular surveillance on week days and during weekends. On the weekend of 25th August 2018, staff on patrol managed to intercept such illegal act. The incident occurred at ‘Dan Bore’, Anse Boileau just before 1pm. In all, the illegal operators managed to transport 31 pieces of ‘Santol’ planks to a road, ready to be loaded onto a truck and transported away. ‘Santol’ timber sells for R701/ m3. The timber together with a chainsaw and a few other personal belongings of the perpetrators were seized by the police and SNPA.

The confiscated timber

If it was not for SNPA’s organized operations, it was most likely that the country would have lost significant revenue due to such unscrupulous individuals. Besides the loss of revenue, the damage caused by the illegal harvesters to the watershed will surely impact on the local farming community that obtain their water upstream. Most often the tree illegally harvested are those that have been left by the authority because of its proximity to a water source. Such trees tend to grow very fast and those unscrupulous individuals are tempted by them. We are currently in the dry season and the cutting down of trees near streams directly affects the amount of water.

Cut down 'santol' trees littering the area

The public is being reminded that it is an offence to harvest timber on government land without a valid permit. Anyone caught in such illegal activity will be prosecuted and may have to pay at least thrice the price of trees fell. The public is being encouraged to contact SNPA on, 4225114 or 2818800; Greenline on 2722111 to report on illegal harvesting of timber or other forest product.

Trees are extremely important to our country not just for their monetary value but likewise for the ecosystem services that they provide such as provision of food, fresh water, climate regulation and recreational spaces.