Nature trails from the perspective of the local population


06-August-2018

Nature Trails seems to be one of the hot topics being discussed in Seychelles. The social media often have post on them. The comments are often negative and highlight the need for the authorities to refocus or at least to communicate better to all parties including our local community on what is going on.

The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is mandated to maintain trails inside the National Parks and would like to offer its perspective on things in this opportune moment. Often in Seychelles we tend to look at things from the angle of tourists, understandably as this is our biggest source of income. The SNPA in this contribution would like to look at trails from the perspective or at least addressing the perspective of the local population.

What is clear from the outset is that our nature trails are valuable national assets. Apart from the obvious of trails providing livelihood for a lot of local people (tourist guides), nature trails provide locals with entertainment, leisure, socialisation, and spiritual uplifting. In fact in terms of local activities the use of trails is possibly only rivalled by a day at the beach.

As Seychelles develop, people are turning to nature.  The trails are ideal because they can be used by the whole family, a lot of people still hold their family at heart and dedicate their weekend solely for this purpose. The trails offer fun without the bad influences of our developing society. Others use the trails for spiritual reasons, Good Friday is a good example and the Trois Frères trail is now firmly on the Christian pilgrimage agenda. Others prefer the tranquility or solace some trails offer to be more at peace or at one with their creators, and may visit the trails as prayer groups or even alone.

Trails are extensively used for sports or fitness purposes. The National Sports Council (NSC) even have some Fitness Challenges that focusses in and around trails. Some people use the trails purely for leisure and to discover their country. The younger generation in search of activities use the trails as a social platform, they sometimes form dedicated groups that often do not limit their exploring to the trails but venture deep into the forest in search of adventure.

Finally we have the local scientists or naturalists who use the trails more for its biodiversity aspects. Exploring the plant and animal life, looking for new species, or new location for rare species.

It does not matter the purpose for which our local population uses the trails, we all expect accessibility and safety of the trails. In addition some of us want clear, and relevant information on the trails. The SNPA is slowly upgrading the trails -- you can visit Morne Blanc, Trois Frères and Copolia for example. The authority expects to before the end of the year show major improvements on other trails including Anse Major.

 

Need for responsibility

 

Unfortunately our local population is having more negative impacts on trails than tourists. We dirty our trails as we dirty the whole of Seychelles. Most of us do not carry our garbage back with us. Where it used to be clean and pure is starting to look the same as anywhere else.

There are repeated vandalism of facilities. People are either breaking things or defacing them. Some spend time to engrave their names on everything from buildings to sign boards. There are new activities such as mountain biking into the national parks, the trails are not designed for this and erosion is starting to set in.

 

What can we do?

 

There needs to be better communication between SNPA and stakeholders (population). We will address this. There needs to be better communication between SNPA and other agencies such as PUC. This will minimise impacts around trails. We all need to respect our National Heritage. Bring back our rubbish and stop vandalising the facilities.

Since we all love the trails so much, let us keep them in a state that our children can also feel that they have inherited paradise.

For SNPA we have a motto for our trails: ‘Take little with you on the way in, and bring back more on your way out. Bring back more photos, more memories, be more spiritually uplifted, feel healthier and finally bring back more rubbish than you took in’.

 

Some photos taken while visiting the trails (Photo credits: J. Mougal)

 

 

Contributed by SNPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

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