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Seychelles National Parks staff clear nature trails during tourism low point

Victoria, Seychelles | July 11, 2020, Saturday @ 08:45 in Environment » GENERAL | By: Salifa Karapetyan Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 2422
Seychelles National Parks staff clear nature trails during tourism low point

SNPA cleared four trails - Nid D'aigle, Anse Caiman, Anse Songe and Anse Reunion Trails on La Digue. (Seychelles National Parks Authority)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Staff from two reserves of the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) are joining forces to clean nature trails on La Digue, as the authority faces financial constraints and is unable to pay private contractors.

The 1-kilometre-long Nid D'aigle trail was the first to be maintained by the team of 10 SNPA staff from the Veuve Reserve, including those on the Unemployment Relief Scheme (URS) and from Ile Cocos Marine Park.

"We are all so excited about this collaborative effort, a job that is normally carried out by private contractors. In July we will plant endemic trees on the trail to improve the biodiversity," said Josianna Rose, the officer in charge of Veuve Reserve.

The officer in charge of Ile Cocos Marine Park, Cliff Emile, added that "our marine park team have worked on Curieuse before and we are used to trail work, so for us, it was not a difficult task."

"As a team, we are well aware of the impact that COVID-19 pandemic is having on our operations, therefore we are more than willing to help other sections in their activities," he added.

One of the cleared trails on La Digue done by SNPA staff. (Seychelles National Parks Authority) Photo License: CC-BY

SNPA is entrusted with the protection and management of all marine and terrestrial national parks in the Seychelles. In 2018 it obtained financial autonomy.

In 2019, with the financial support of the Environment Trust fund (ETF), SNPA cleared four trails - Nid D'aigle, Anse Caiman, Anse Songe and Anse Reunion Trails on La Digue, the third-most populated island. The trails were in a poor state of maintenance and signage was also erected.

Six months later, vegetation has slowly grown back and trees have fallen across the paths. With budgetary constraints brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the high dependency on tourism -with the main revenue coming from park entry fee - SNPA could not afford to pay contractors to do the job again.

Since activities in the parks and reserve are at its slowest, personnel from the authority have shifted their operations, preparing and maintaining its facilities, waiting for the return of international visitors.

Cleaning of trails will be done on the other two main islands – Mahe and Praslin – by another group of SNPA staff.

The senior research scientist at the authority, Isabelle Ravinia, told SNA that this activity might be discontinued once tourists start coming into the country as "staff will need to go back to their usual every day work and duties."

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Tags: unemployment relief scheme, Ile Cocos Marine Park, Environment Trust Fund, COVID-19 pandemic

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