Nature Seychelles' Top 10 When the going gets tough, the tough get going | 08 January 2021
It was the sort of ‘bang’ nobody wants to start the year with, but it’s the one we got. 2020 began for us with devastating erosion on Cousin Island. It was followed by a global pandemic and blow-back to the economy. But Nature Seychelles persisted, surmounted incredible challenges, and had meaningful impact for nature, people, and Seychelles.
Here are our 10 top highlights of what was a roller-coaster year.
Not only did the NGO manage to stay afloat amid the most difficult financial period, with the help of government and others, but also did so with noteworthy successes. We supported our staff and continued protecting, managing, and researching conserved areas and threatened species, amid reduced financial capacity caused by a loss of tourism revenues.
Our chief executive, Dr Nirmal Shah, an acclaimed environmentalist, used his global influence to provide thought leadership on the blue economy, conservation, and protected areas as well as national civil society action during the pandemic. He was a key speaker on many webinars alongside global experts, including ‘Tech for a Better Planet’ held by telecom giant Huawei, which garnered a record 1,360,000 viewers. Dr Shah led the successful drive to get government budgetary assistance for conservation NGOs.
Accolades and Awards
Nature Seychelles’ out-of-the-box career training programme, the Conservation Boot Camp (CBC), which unfortunately closed down because of the pandemic, was recognised as one of the 10 Top Conservation Training programmes worldwide by Conservation Careers.
Dailus Laurence, Cousin Island's chief warden, won the prestigious 2020 African Ranger Award promoted by the Alibaba Foundation and the Paradise Foundation.
Our innovative Locally Empowered Area Protection (LEAP) project has formalised co-management of the BaieTernay and Port Launay Marine National Parks. The co-management process, a Seychelles’ first, kicked-off with the signing of a memorandum of understanding, which had been approved by the cabinet of ministers, between Nature Seychelles and the Seychelles National Parks Authority.
10 years of saving corals and more international support
The pioneering Reef Rescuers project celebrated a decade of action as a globally acclaimed large-scale coral reef restoration action. Nature Seychelles received a new grant for 1.2 million US Dollars from the Adaptation Fund, through UNDP and the government of Seychelles, to continue this work as part of a large regional project with Mauritius.
Nature Seychelles developed an online payment system for ease of payments to the NGO and to reduce human contact during the pandemic. The system is being used for ticketing on Cousin as well. A Covid-19 resource of carefully curated scientific papers was also launched.
Safe tourism label
We put in place all the required protocols for Cousin Island to become the first protected area to receive the safe tourism label, which is promoted by the ministries of tourism and health. This allowed the island to resume much-needed eco-tourism activities when borders reopened for visitors.
Building back better
We received £60,000 for our ‘Building back Better in the Age of Covid’ campaign from the Seychelles Warbler Research Group to boost high-level science in Seychelles through the construction of a new research centre on Cousin Island.
Keeping people healthy
We contributed to Covid-19 bounce back by revitalising and expanding our organic Heritage Garden. The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman served as a space where people can heal, rejuvenate and beat the Covid-19 blues.
For the first time in its history, Nature Seychelles requested, and received, help from the government for the recurrent budgets of the Cousin Island Special Reserve and the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, the two protected areas it manages on behalf of the state. A big thank you to the Ministry of Finance and the Environment Trust Fund.
Contributed by Nature Seychelles