‘Ridge to Reef’ project completed


Dr Elvina Henriette presents project works and results to MFF secretariat officers and NCB members in a recent national workshop

This is often a common sight during heavy rainfalls here in Seychelles, but what several of us may not realise is that this is often a sign of something gone wrong in the natural environment.

It is well documented that tropical coastal waters worldwide are under threat by development and climate change. Seychelles is no exception, particularly where there is increasing development pressure from tourism infrastructure, agriculture, pollution and reclamation. With more and more pressure being placed on the limited available coastal lowland, developers are forced to go uphill to build.

In the face of development and other environmental challenges, the Terrestrial Restoration Action Society of Seychelles (Trass) has developed a tool to monitor erosion in rivers and lagoons. The 15- month demonstration project funded by the Mangroves for the Future (MFF) started in September 2010 at Anse Possession, Praslin. This island that is severely affected by land degradation as a result of forest fires (two per year on average) combined with heavy rainfalls leading to soil erosion from the hills to the coast. Throughout the project entitled “Ridge to Reef – Where does all the soil go?’ Trass measured soil erosion in Pasquiere and Casimir Rivers, Pasquiere mangrove and the adjacent lagoon. Members of the public (e.g. Youth groups, Scouts, NRA, Jj Spirit, Service hotel, SNPA) also took part in the monthly monitoring to enhance their knowledge and to contribute to the project.

Of the three chemical parameters measured; Aluminium, Iron and Turbidity, Turbidity provided the best measure in terms of the extent of erosion in the river. The lower course of Casimir River located downstream of a building site, had the highest amount of visible suspended particles and hence the highest turbidity relative to other sampling stations which were negligibly turbid, with higher levels in October and November after heavy rainfalls. This showed that during heavy rainfalls, sediments from the building site upstream were washed and carried down into the river system and lagoon.

The simple erosion monitoring tool that Trass developed can hence be used for decision making, planning and for rapid environmental impact assessments especially in areas where construction is being undertaken.  The tool enables monitoring of the state of the environment before, during and after a development. For example, if a construction site is not utilising measures to prevent siltation of rivers, such as silt fencing or bank stabilisation measures, the tool will demonstrate the impacts.

In addition, Trass also raised awareness on the causes and consequences of soil erosion through workshops, production of posters and other outreach materials including its website www.trass.org.sc , and through its famous ‘Family Demonstration Day (FDD) – Being a Biologist for a day’ where families explore nature and gain an appreciation of their environment through hands-on activities around a river, a mangrove or in the forest. It is a highly praised community activity and an effective way of promoting community awareness, while bringing local people to identify common stresses to their environment. A further outcome of the FDD was the acquisition of a few more active members for this young Praslin-based non-governmental organisation.

Overall, the project boosted the capacity of Trass both at technical and at management levels. We also managed to build more partnerships within the government, the private sector, and the general public e.g. the Environment Department, the Public Utilities Company, Seychelles Agricultural Agency, the Seychelles Bureau of Standards and C’est La Vie bottled water company.

Many institutions have expressed interests in receiving copies of the project’s final report which Trass has willingly circulated. Further copies will be disseminated to the Environment Department and PUC. For a complete copy and all results of the MFF Ridge to Reef project report please contact Trass on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via our webpage www.trass.org.sc 

Trass would like to thank all of its esteemed supporters and all those who contributed to the success of this ‘Ridge to Reef’ project especially the people of Praslin who made great efforts to take part in and learn from the activities. Trass is especially grateful to the MFF initiative (www.mangrovesforthefuture.org) who believed in their ability thus providing funding for the project through financial support from Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and Swedish International Development Agency.