Following the Rio Conference held in June in Brazil, where at the Head of States side event, “Leaders Valuing Nature: A Celebration of Commitments,” organized by GLISPA, the Global Island Partnership, Seychelles, pledged to the international community to further increase its protected area and special reserves. The government has further demonstrated its commitment in marine and terrestrial protected areas by changing the status of the D’Aros and St. Joseph atolls to that of a protected reserve. These islands are the first within the Amirantes group to be declared protected area.
The islands are known for its diverse coral reefs, important nursery habitats, and breeding grounds for several vulnerable and endangered species such as certain species of sharks, marine turtles, and birds. The Ocean life around the islands is an excellent ecosystem for researches, studies, and other activities such as eco-tourism, which will create awareness on the need to create more “special reserves.” Now the law is being put in place to turn the atoll into a marine and terrestrial protected area also known as special reserves.
Apart from Aldabara, there are no other dedicated protected areas in the outer islands. It is being proposed that the entire area within the whole boundary is designated under one protective status namely: “Special Reserve,” as described in the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Act, Law of Seychelles (revised edition 1991) chapter 141. “Where ‘Special Reserve’ means an area set aside in which characteristic wildlife requires protection and in which all other interests and activities are subordinated to this end.”
In a joint statement last week, the Ministries of Land Use and Habitat and Environment and Energy, both Ministers Christian Lionnet and Professor Rolph Payet, said that they appreciate the support of the Save Our Seas Foundation, which will manage the islands. The NGO has an excellent track record in marine conservation work around the world. SOSF has the resources and expertise to manage the area, which already has a research center, which needs to be further developed and expanded. Save Our Seas Foundation will work in close collaboration with a local NGO to organize research, conservation, and educational activities on D’Arros.
This move shows the government’s commitment towards the conservation and protection of the rich biodiversity of the islands. Seychelles has already committed 50% of its terrestrial area as protected area. Currently the government has committed up to 30% of its marine territory as protected area, with 15% designated as a no-take zone.