Affected by the impacts of COVID-19 |06 July 2020
SNPA shifts its operations
With its activities highly dependent on tourism which has been severely affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the personnel of the Seychelles National Parks Authority which obtained financial autonomy in January 2018, have had to shift their operations.
The clearing of nature trails on La Digue is one of the examples where employees who normally work at sea have had to take to the mountains to help their counterparts.
In these difficult times, the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is preparing/maintaining its facilities while like other organisations and businesses it continues to wait for the return of foreign visitors.
The main revenue earner of SNPA is park entry fees. But with the impact of the pandemic severely affecting tourism, activities in the parks and reserves are now at their slowest.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily affected the tourism industry on La Digue. Consequently, its nature trails are at present very poorly frequented by tourists. But in spite of this, an increase in visits by locals has been observed.
But due to past incidents on the trails whereby tourists have ended up injured and others losing their lives, there was an urgency to improve the situation.
In 2019, with the financial support of the Environment Trust Fund (ETF), the SNPA undertook the clearing of four trails – Nid D’aigle, Anse Caïman, Anse Songe and Anse Reunion – which were in a poor state of maintenance. Appropriate signage was also erected.
It has now been over six months since the SNPA last cleared the trails. The vegetation has slowly grown back and trees have fallen across the paths. With budgetary constraints due to the pandemic, the SNPA could not afford to pay contractors to do the clearing over again. Therefore, the SNPA staff from the Veuve Reserve including those on the employment relief scheme (URS) and those from Ile Cocos Marine Park, joined efforts to maintain the trail. The team of 10 personnel started work on June 16 and so far have been able to clear the Nid D’aigle trail, which is 1.06km long.
“We are all so excited about this collaborative effort, a job that is normally carried out by private contractors. This month we will plant endemic trees on the trail to improve the biodiversity,” explained Josianna Rose, officer in charge of the Veuve Reserve.
The officer in charge of Ile Cocos Marine Park, Cliff Emile added: “Our marine park team have worked on Curieuse before and we are used to trail work, so for us, it was not a difficult task. As a team we are well aware of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our operations, therefore we are more than willing to help other sections in their activities.”
The SNPA is entrusted with the protection and management of all marine and terrestrial national parks in the Seychelles, including the Ste Anne, Silhouette, Port Launay, Baie Ternay, Ile Coco, Curieuse and Saint Pierre marine parks, as well as the Morne Seychellois National Park, the Praslin National Park and the Veuve Special Reserve on La Digue.
Aside from administering controls on access and activities within each of the parks, including revenue collection from park fees paid by thousands of tourists every year, the SNPA also is responsible for research and conservation in collaboration with recognised institutions within Seychelles and around the world, to ensure the protection of all species and ecosystems within the parks.