Wed, 23rd August 2017 | Updated Thursday 27 July 2017, 09:18:58    

Celebrating Protected Areas Day

Seychelles Nation 16-January-2017 - So Christmas is over and its back to work and school. Nothing left to celebrate? Not to worry, we have you covered. January 31 is National Protected Areas Day and a great opportunity to explore our National Parks!

Seychelles is blessed with rich and unique biodiversity. It is what contributes to make Seychelles such an attractive destination for our foreign visitors. Currently, Seychelles has 38 Protected Areas (go on, see if you can name them all), some are marine or shell reserves, some terrestrial and some are both. Together they total over 55,000 hectares. They represent places of preservation for rare or endemic species, ensuring that these are available for future generations to enjoy.

Protected Areas are not just conservation spaces. Many are attractions for visitors to our islands. Marine areas may include fish nurseries that replenish fish stocks and so benefit the fishing industries. Rivers within the national parks naturally filter and regulate the water supply, providing residents with a consistent clean water source. Equally important, national parks support healthy living – walking the nature trails can be more fun than road running or treadmills. They offer quiet places to reflect and reconnect with the sounds and smells of nature.

Protected Areas also provide places for families to play together and for our children to learn and explore. They are locations for story-telling, for children's imaginations to run wild and hopefully for parents to regain their youthful enthusiasm and excitement.

National Protected Areas Day on January 31 is an opportunity to remember the importance of our Protected Area network and its value to the country: environmentally, economically and socially. January 31 is a Tuesday and you are probably working or studying – but really every day can be Protected Areas Day. Visit, explore and connect with nature!

Protected Area Finance – a new national level project to support the sustainable financing of Protected Areas in Seychelles

The Government of Seychelles has signed an agreement with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement a Protected Area Finance Project. This five-year project, which began in April 2016, has been developed to strengthen the sustainable financing of Seychelles Protected Areas network.

The GOS-UNDP-GEF Protected Area Finance project is a partnership involving the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change (MEECC), the Seychelles National Parks Authority, Seychelles Islands Foundation, Nature Seychelles, Green Island Foundation, Island Conservation Society and Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, with each partner expected to implement activities aimed at strengthening their long-term finaning.

The project is being managed by the Programme Coordination Unit within the MEECC with a Project Manager, Daig Romain, and a Finance and Economics Advisor, Andy Rylance.

The project aims to increase and diversify revenue streams used to finance protected area management, and to develop a planning and legal framework for the improved use of the generated revenue. This will improve the financial sustainability of the protected area network, and of selected individual priority PAs, to ensure that they have financial resources that cover the full costs of their management at an optimal level. To achieve this, it will support the building and renovating of small infrastructure, and introduce new cost-effective practices, systems and schemes, all aimed at making sites more attractive to visitors and increasing the revenue generation capacity of the individual sites.

The project has so far developed a national-level financial plan for protected areas, conducted a willingness-to-pay assessment of tourism entrance fees, assessed the Seychelles National Parks Authority's (SNPA) tourism products and infrastructure, and reviewed the Authority's fees collection system – the latter supported with financing from the UNDP Biodiversity Financing Initiative.

2017 will be a busy year for the project, and hopefully residents will soon begin to see tangible improvements in National Park facilities - so keep an eye out when you next visit!

New financial plan to strengthen management of Seychelles' Protected Areas

Seychelles has recently developed its first national-level financial plan for Protected Areas.The plan provides a strategy for achieving the financing needs of the existing and potentially expanded protected area network.

"The Seychelles Protected Areas act as banks for preserving natural capital for future generations. They are also significant contributors to the economy of Seychelles, namely the tourism and the fishing industries, the two largest sectors. However, what we didn't know before was how much revenue the protected areas generated collectively, how much they cost to manage and how much additional funds they need to improve biodiversity management. Now we do – and this provides us with a strong foundation to inform strategic decision-making," said the Finance and Economics Advisor of the GOS-UNDP-GEF Project, Andy Rylance.

He added that the financial plan "prioritises a number of financing options to develop a diversified financing portfolio as well as identifying opportunities for protected areas to spend their limited financing in a more cost-effective manner through collaboration and cost-sharing between protected areas." The plan for sustainable financing of the Seychelles protected area network aims to optimise their existing flow of funds from tourism before diversifying into non-tourism based financing, such as payments for ecosystem services and biodiversity offsets.

This is a learning process for all the PAs, so a collaborative forum will be established for all protected areas to share their experiences and expertise, strengthen cooperation, and improve the management and cost-effectiveness of the protected area network.

The financial plan is not an end in itself – it has helped to kick-start a process. The GOS-UNDP-GEF Protected Areas Finance project will aim to work with partners to implement the finance plan.

The accompanying photos show some of Seychelles' Protected Areas.

 Curieuse Island

Ile Coco

Morne Seychellois

Source: Seychelles Nation http://www.nation.sc/article.html?id=252558

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