Seychelles considers protecting more forest areas – private landowners consulted
On a question about Grand Police, Matatiken said that the government is seeing with all the owners the best way to approach the issue. (Stan Adam)
Authorities in Seychelles are considering the possibility of demarcating areas important for biodiversity and conservation and for those that are on private land, they are consulting with respective landowners to get their approval.
The project included a two-year research project conducted by four consultants -- Bruno Senterre, Rachel Bristol, Gilberte Gendron and Dr. Elvina Henriette -- and the results were shared in a public meeting at Takamaka Primary School last Saturday.
The areas being proposed for protection under consideration for the exercise on Mahe are Montagne Planneau, Montagne Corrail, Collines du Sud and Grand Police, Montagne Brulee and Piton de l'Eboulis, and on Praslin; a Praslin National Park extension, Riviere Kerlan to Grand Fond in Zimbabwe, Nouvelle Découverte to St Sauveur, and the western coast of Curieuse Island.
The Principal Secretary for Environment, Dennis Matatiken, said that one of the aims of the project was to have consultations with the land owners of proposed areas.
"The consultants went to the Registration Office to identify the owners of the parcels of land and met with them. This was also an opportunity for the land owners to discuss their land development plans with the consultants so that necessary consideration will be taken before boundaries are put in place," said Matatiken.
|The results were shared in a public meeting at Takamaka Primary School last Saturday. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY|
During the public meeting, a question was asked if the project will help protect areas such as Grand Police, which is rich in biodiversity, from tourism development.
"When it comes to protection –our approach is to engage with the land owners and with regards to Grand Police, the main concern was related to the wetland and its function. We are seeing with all the owners the best way to approach the issue, what is it that we have to protect and what is the best way to do it," he said.
One of the consultants, Dr Elvina Henriette stressed that the land belongs to the owners and "as consultants in this project we are showing them the value of their land. The biodiversity and services that we have spoken of so that they understand the areas that we need to protect if they give their consent. If they do not agree there is nothing that we can do."
She pointed out that during the consultation with the private sector many of them saw the importance of biodiversity and protecting it.
"The areas that they wish to develop are the areas that we will not include in the protected areas, but it is important to have that dialogue between ourselves as consultants and the private sector and highlight the importance of what we are doing and at the same time understand their needs," explained Henriette.
In a presentation at the meeting, one of the consultants, Bruno Senterre, said there is a great need to protect more forest areas on the Inner Islands.
"This is because presently only 17 percent of the Seychelles' Inner Islands is protected as forest areas and there is a necessity to have at least 50 percent forestry, which will help give a cooler temperature and make it more conducive to getting more rainfall," he added.
According to Henriette, "with this project and the areas, we are proposing it will give us another 10 percent of protected areas which will make up to a total of 27 percent forest protected areas, and we're still short."
She said protecting those areas is not only important for biodiversity but also important to provide humans with resources in order to survive such as water.
"We know that the forest gives us water to drink and also for essential activities that we do and the forest also has its importance to provide wood, medicine, cool down the air temperature for us to have a cooler environment and there are other uses such absorbing carbon dioxide to help against global warming and we have to take all of this into account".
After the meeting, the ministry and the consultants will meet once more with the land owners and review the boundaries and then go back to the government and give feedback based on the consultations.