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Climate impact, coastal erosion and flooding: Protecting Seychelles' coastlines may cost up to $10m

Victoria, Seychelles | March 14, 2022, Monday @ 16:40 in Environment » CONSERVATION | By: Salifa Karapetyan Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 4756
Climate impact, coastal erosion and flooding: Protecting Seychelles' coastlines may cost up to $10m

A cocoon of rock armouring to stop sand migration at the Anse Kerlan beach on Praslin. (Romano Laurence)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Finding solutions to manage coastal erosion and flooding at five sites in Seychelles was the focus of a meeting attended by government officials and environmentalists on Monday.

The workshop considered the 'Coastal Modelling and Assessment of Potential Solutions for Coastal Defense and Adaptation Measures at Priority sites in Seychelles' study, focusing on two locations on Mahe and three on Praslin.

The study was carried out by the New Zealand-based company and research centre, eCoast, with technical assistance from the World Bank and collaboration with consultants and other organisations in Seychelles.

"Different solutions have been suggested for all five locations. The reason why we held the workshop was to have the stakeholders analyse and agree on the best solution for each location. With the discussion, we will validate, bring the solutions forward and choose the right one to implement," said Anie Simeon, the principal climate adaptation officer at the environment ministry. 

In Seychelles, coastal hardening such as rock armouring, seawalls, and groins have been the go-to coastal defence technique for decades. However, they cause erosion, bringing with them a negative impact on coral reefs and other ecosystems. 

"In the past, with limited resources and human capacity, Seychelles was forced to make decisions without having access to this kind of information and guidance to find sustainable and long-term solutions, that also take into account future climate impacts such as the sea-level rise and storm surges," said Flavien Joubert, the Minister for Environment.

Nature-based solutions, such as the 'blue barrier' – a man-made reef - are part of new ideas aimed at increasing coastal resilience while safeguarding natural structures and benefitting the economy.

A wall was built at Anse Boileau to prevent water from reaching the road during high tide. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY

The cost of protecting its coastline is beyond Seychelles' means

The workshop also provided the meeting's participants a chance to view the 'Preliminary Coastal Management and Adaptation Financial Assessment for Seychelles', a second study undertaken by eCoast.

"The second half of the workshop looked at financing options. Proposed solutions will cost between $1million to $10million, which we definitely will not be able to afford in the budget we get from the government every year. We will have to outsource the money, look for grants and international funds. There might be elements that we will be able to implement through co-funding," said Simeon.

She explained that the studies are based on the ministry's coastal management plan in which 18 sites in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has been identified as priorities that need coastal intervention. 

"We have realised that as a country we do not have enough study that has been carried out to establish which solutions will suit a location. This is when we asked for help and the World Bank has helped us with the coastal survey in these five areas. These five areas were the most vulnerable, and based on the result that we get now, we are thinking that we will be able to implement solutions on other sites of priority on Mahe. In due time when we have enough data, we will be in a position to implement projects as soon as we get the finance," added Simeon.

The studies are intended to help Seychelles implement the Seychelles Coastal Management Plan for 2019-2024, which was developed by the ministry with the support and guidance of the World Bank. 

Seychelles is vulnerable to climatic conditions as many infrastructural developments have been done along coastlines to cater to the needs of the tourism industry, the top pillar of its economy.

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Tags: coastal erosion, coastal hardening, Seychelles Coastal Management Plan

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