What has nature ever done for us? Zwazo 26 investigates


11-March-2013

Exploring the subject are features written by authors from Seychelles and the region covering a wide range of subjects that show us how our lives and well-being are dependent on nature.

Nature is like a vast window display at the baker's, says Martin Varley in his article "Who ate nature's cake?" In the same way that bakers provide a wide variety of products we need, so does nature, he says. The problem is we have often taken what's on display, without paying, shoplifting nature's bounty. We think we can take nature’s resources without any cost and are bankrupting nature and denying others her goods at the same time. We are in urgent need of valuing of our natural capital, he argues.
Dr Nirmal Shah agrees. In the editorial, he says that our complacency and disinterest in declining environmental quality is bound to cost us. He explains the reason for our lethargy. Although most places exhibit degradation of the environment, global warming and disappearing of species, at the same time conventional measures of human well-being show that, on average, quality of life is improving around the world.

But the continued rise in well-being that we expect may not actually happen and society may not be able to successfully adapt to further environmental degradation. What we need is better understanding of the actual benefits of healthy ecosystems to human welfare and their costs.

He partially demonstrates this in "The Cost of a Special Reserve: Sticker shock or value for money?" In this article Shah explains how ecotourism is valued on Cousin Island Special Reserve and how this translates into the fees charged for the eco-tourism product there. In another article "Priceless or Worthless" he discusses some of the less "sexy" species of Seychelles, which are in danger of disappearing.

 Tourists on Cousin enjoying the ecotourism product (James Luxton)

Caroline Wanjiru tells us that efforts to value nature in economic terms are gaining momentum as a conservation tool in Kenya, while Martin Fowlie reviews the cost of conservation as presented in a paper published in the journal, Science.

Shaun Hurrell takes us through the work of the international partnership that is BirdLife demonstrating how people are "Living off Nature", while Robin Hanson discusses the connection between nature and well being and the work of Nature Seychelles in this area.

A talk with Darrell Green, a fishers representative from Praslin Island, reveals steps to conserve the near-shore fisheries there, while taking a spotlight to agriculture and the role of pollinators and the importance of farming with nature are Dino Martins, Antoine Moustache and Jose Loustau Lalanne.

Peter Chadwick tells us about the pleasurable experience that is photographing the wild, while Liz Mwambui shows us how people are discovering new ways to re-build a sustainable world by copying nature in "Bio-mimicry: Nature knows best." Finally in "Selling the Sun" Radley Weber is on a crusade to convert as many people as possible to solar energy.

Pollinators such as bees are essential for agriculture

The magazine also carries news and reviews of Nature Seychelles' ongoing work in making nature relevant to people while conserving and restoring key pieces of the ecosystem.
It is circulated for free in Seychelles and offered for online download on Nature Seychelles website www.natureseychelles.org.

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