A legacy of conservation – celebrating 15 years of collaboration with the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA)
When we talk about life, we talk about water. No one can dispute its vital importance to our planet’s ecological balance. While this knowledge provides one out of many reasons why we should protect and respect our oceans, they continuously face threats through plastic pollution, overfishing, and the everyday use of products that can devastate vibrant coral reefs.
The authorities set up in Seychelles to protect our marine resources have always been mindful of this and 15 years ago signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between SNPA, formally Seychelles Centre for Marine Research and Technology-Marine Parks Authority (SCMRT-MPA) and GVI.
Under this first agreement, which was signed by the then Managing Director of SCMRT-MPA, Mary Stravens, and GVI’s Director of Marine Projects, Steve Gwenin, Seychelles welcomed the first group of GVI’s expedition members and staff at their facility at Cap Ternay.
The objectives of the collaboration were firstly, to have skilled personnel, providing training to volunteers and local conservationists, on coral, fish and other reef-associated species identification, as well as methodologies used for surveying these species’ distribution and health.
Secondly, it aimed to undertake annual surveys on the status of the coral reefs within the Cap Ternay and Port Launay Marine National Parks and its vicinity (North West Mahé).
Furthermore, in 2008, a new agreement was put in place to develop a second base on Curieuse Island. Initially developed as an extension of the marine program based in Cap Ternay, the Curieuse base has since re-oriented its work towards coastal and terrestrial research.
This benefits GVI in providing diverse activities for its volunteer programme in Seychelles but also enables SNPA to have valuable information within the Curieuse National Park, on the status of various species, such as the Aldabra giant tortoise, the endemic coco-de-mer, lemon sharks and their ecosystems, such as the mangrove forest which is one of its kind in the inner granitic islands.
To date, GVI has provided valuable support to SNPA, in ensuring the collection of diverse, valuable data sets on species and their habitats, in Seychelles national parks.
The international organisation had similarly provided training for SNPA staff in reef monitoring techniques and diving. To have been able to maintain such a well-established research and monitoring partnership for so long would not have been possible without the great support of SNPA, and likewise, the good working relationship and understanding between the two organisations.
Looking back on these past 15 years, it is clear that the collaboration between GVI and SNPA has resulted in one of the oldest established, comprehensive, long-term coral reef monitoring programmes in Seychelles.
Data sets on coral reef health and the status of the North West coast of Mahé, have indeed served the purpose of guiding management decisions over the years, especially in 2014 when the protection of Baie Ternay Marine Park came under threat from hotel developers.
The SNPA is entrusted with the protection and management of all marine and terrestrial national parks in Seychelles, including the Sante Anne, Silhouette, Port Launay, Baie Ternay, Ile Coco, Curieuse and Saint Pierre marine parks, as well as the Morne Seychellois National Park, the Praslin National Park and the Veuve Special Reserve on La Digue.
Aside from administering controls on access and activities within each of the parks, including revenue collection from park fees paid by thousands of tourists every year, the SNPA also is responsible for research and conservation in collaboration with recognised institutions within Seychelles and around the world, to ensure the protection of all species and ecosystems within the parks.
This story comes from GVI’s Impact and Ethics report. To celebrate 20 years of work in sustainable development, we reflect on and showcase our impactful stories and data. Read the report in full.
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