New policy for conservation of Seychelles’ land and ocean
Fairy terns on Bird island (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Marine and terrestrial protected areas in the Seychelles will have stronger protection measures, after the Indian Ocean island nation announced its new policy specifically for protected areas.
Seychelles’ protected areas used to fall under different pieces of legislation hence the need for a specific policy to govern such areas.
The main aim is to ensure the conservation of Seychelles’ natural diversity and cultural heritage to ensure that the benefits of the sustainable use of resources found on these protected land and marine area are shared fairly amongst the population.
In order to achieve these objectives the policy sets forth the need to categorize the Seychelles’ protected areas in accordance with international norms as well as the necessity to develop programmes for the proper management and financing of the areas.
The policy also sets clear guidelines for government agencies and other relevant stakeholders concerning when, where and how protected areas may be established.
The policy was drafted by the Seychelles Ministry of Environment together with local partners involved in the management of protected areas in the Indian Ocean archipelago with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
“The protected areas in Seychelles are under the administration of a number of different government institutions, parastatals and non-governmental organizations. This new policy will help shape the management priority of the diverse protected areas we have in Seychelles, in addition to a complete revision of the protected area categories,” said Seychelles Minister for Enviornment and Energy Dr Rolph Payet when launching the new policy on Monday 07, April.
When drafting the new document the Seychelles has adopted international standards and best practice to ensure that the already designated protected areas are managed efficiently while making provision to expand the protected area system in the future.
The policy makes provision for new protected areas to be established on both privately-owned and state-owned islands using different management and sustainable financing strategies.
It will also ensure that capacity building of NGOs, parastatals and the private sector to locate and manage terrestrial protected areas.
With regards to marine protected areas, the focus is on areas that build resilience against environmental variations associated with global climate change as well as expanding conservation zones for safeguarding marine habitats.
The Seychelles Ministry of Environment and Energy has said the new policy supports elements of the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy 2012-2020 and Seychelles’ adoption of the Blue Economy concept.
The document is expected to be revised every 10 years.
The Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands is has a total land area of 455 km² spread over an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 km.
Already, half of the Seychelles’ land territory is protected under law as nature reserves.