An amazing conservation site is hiding in plain sight

The best kept secrets are not always found in hidden papers or on the net

The secret conservation area

Seychelles has been an acclaimed champion of protected areas. From the nature reserves enacted in the 1960’s to the new marine protected areas (MPAs) legislated this year dedicating 30% of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to conservation. What is rarely talked about are the other sites that are not legally protected but are being managed for conservation, in a few cases perhaps more effectively so than some of the legislated ones.

An outstanding example is the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman (SARC), an award-winning conservation site. This is the only managed urban wetland in Seychelles.  The original site was heavily degraded, part of coastal reclamation that was undertaken for various development projects. Over 20 years Nature Seychelles has re-engineered this site to be a model of a fully functioning coastal wetland in Seychelles. It is a location which is an outdoor classroom for hundreds of  children every year, an attraction for tourists, a site where we have undertaken our Green Health program which has helped busy executives to substance abusers, and a vital green lifebelt which harbours biodiversity, absorbs carbon and acts a a large sponge and filter for runoff from hard urban infrastructure all around. 

The SARC is not formally protected although it is designated as a Sensitive Area under the Environment Protection Act. It is what is known as an Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measure (OECM). An OECM is a conservation designation for areas that are achieving the effective in-situ conservation of biodiversity outside of protected areas. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) says it is a “geographically defined area other than a Protected Area, which is governed and managed in ways that achieve positive and sustained long-term outcomes for the in situ conservation of biodiversity, with associated ecosystem functions and services and where applicable, cultural, spiritual, socio–economic, and other locally relevant values” (CBD, 2018).

An OECM  like the SARC offers a huge opportunity to increase recognition and support for effective long-term conservation that is taking place outside the legally designated protected areas. There is much for even protected areas managers to learn from an OECM like the SARC. For example, Nature Seychelles has restored and is managing this area without any government funds despite it being owned by the state. The Wetlands unit of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change has never included the SARC in any wetland programs, events or projects. The time has come for the SARC and others like it to emerge from the shadows of their better known and more glamorous cousins, the Special Reserves, National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

FAT – Missing From The SIDS Agenda

As Small Island Developing States (SIDS) representatives meet this week in Seychelles to prepare for the small island summit to be held in Samoa next year, I propose they focus on FAT. FAT?? Yes, you heard right. FAT. And its missing from the agenda!!

SIDS hold some of the fattest people on the planet and that alone is threatening their sustainability. SIDS have topped the fat charts for some time – the 5 most overweight nations have been SIDS. A new study by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)  reveals this is still the case. The world’s fattest nation, Nauru boasts a 71.1 % obesity rate. Latest data shows that almost 74% of women and about 64% of men in Seychelles are overweight with more than 25% of the adult population being obese. Yet, the FAO representative who made a presentation this week at the preparatory meeting in Seychelles did not once mention his own organisation’s report as related to obesity in SIDS. Continue reading “FAT – Missing From The SIDS Agenda”