TRASS deems Pasquiere’s restoration project a success |07 February 2023
- Eyes other areas on Praslin
The Terrestrial Restoration Action Society of Seychelles (TRASS) has presented the achievements of its project dubbed ‘Community-based ecological coastal rehabilitation using an ecosystem approach’ at Pasquiere, Praslin.
The first component of the project is to prevent the loss of wetlands by enhancing vegetation cover on degraded foothills upstream of the wetlands.
Secondly, to remove invasive plant species encroaching the wetlands and replant with appropriate native species so as to reduce soil erosion from the land into the marine park.
Thirdly to enhance the overall biodiversity and functioning of the ecosystems.
The pilot project, which started in 2020, and was expected to last for two years, has now entered its third year and recently TRASS showcased its achievement to international and local stakeholders through a four-hour programme, which included visits to the sites in the mountainous areas of Pasquiere as well as the wetland areas.
Among the participants were Jared Bisore, a representative of the United Nations Environment Programme.
The rehabilitation project is supported by UNEP and the Nairobi Convention through the Western Indian Ocean Strategic Action Plan (WIOSAP).
Other local stakeholders present included Nanette Laure from the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change & Environment, representatives from the district administration office and the community as well as several private tourism-related companies.
Speaking to Seychelles NATION, TRASS programme manager, Dr Elvina Henriette, said in terms of achievements, TRASS has been able to restore two hectares at Pasquiere, as initially intended.
This was done by building natural barriers out of palm leaves and sticks, on the contour of the mountains to prevent erosion of sediments into the river and ultimately into the sea.
Dr Henriette explained that the soil accumulated into the barriers, were ground for new plants, and those introduced were considered to be good for the type of soil condition, namely ‘Bwa Mon Per’, ‘Bwa Rouz’, ‘lantannyen gran fey’, palms, and ‘prin maron’ among others. Altogether six thousand plants were planted.
A separate basin was built next to the barrier to collect rainwater to be used for the plants’ maintenance.
“The natural barrier was one of the major methods that we have tested and see that it works. We are now entering the third year of this pilot project and those barriers are still standing strong. So, it is effective and is very cost-effective as we only have to collect leaves, bring it on site and pay the workers to build them,” said Dr Henriette.
All plants were produced in the TRASSS nursery.
The second component of the restoration targeted the wetlands where initially sediments from mountain erosion were being accumulated, blocking them, and eventually leading to flooding during heavy rain.
Dr Henriette explained that the type of environment was prone to invasive species such as ‘prune de france’.
These had to be removed and replaced with others like ‘bwa sousouri, vacoas, fruits such as ‘korsol’, breadfruit and jackfruit and according to TRASS they have thrived well during the two years.
“This is an indication when you do restoration in such areas, it can be done at a fast pace, the place can be restored quickly,” she said.
Despite the achievements TRASS highlighted some challenges which hampered their work such as weather, where dry period would force the volunteers to stop with the restoration work, or extreme heavy rain, washing away the plants, where barriers had not yet been installed.
Thirdly, invasive plants, which are native such as ‘sans fin’, which would wrap itself around the plants, squeeze and kill them. So, TRASS had to do constant maintenance in the field.
TRASS added the project’s research element also allowed it to identify actions that could be taken in the future for example to measure degradation level, the types of plants that fare better in that specific area and the types of organic fertilisers best suited for the plants’ restoration.
It said the education element was also highly important since the volunteers were exposed to a huge bank of information.
“It indicated that this type of education and sensitisation is still missing at school and community level, as well as in government offices. They need to know what we are doing so they can support our environment work,” said Dr Henriette.
Following their presentation, UNEP’s representative, Mr Bisore, said he was so impressed with its success that he has encouraged TRASS to upscale it and take it to other parts on Praslin and La Digue. He also saw the potential of introducing it to other regional countries.
«Now that the project is nearly completed, we will try to seek additional funds to upscale it, while ensuring we maintain what we are doing at the moment,” said Dr Henriette.
TRASS hopes to triple what it has done at Pasquiere, which it said is possible if it gets the continued support of the community, to produce plants in their nursery and do the voluntary work in the field.
The accompanying photos show highlights of the site visit to the restored areas.