A week-long series of meetings was held last week in Victoria’s International Conference Centre under the theme “Wetlands connect life and culture,” which saw the secretary general of the RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands attend the key meetings. A range of researchers, conservationists, governmental, diplomatic, and civil society participants also participated in the discussions.
The Seychelles was chosen for the global event to highlight the country’s commitment to protect the fragile marine ecosystems and mangrove forests along sections of the islands’ shores. Three of the archipelago’s already protected wetlands are now listed as global RAMSAR sites, including the Aldabra atoll, which is only a small part open for explorer and adventure tourism so that the area can be kept free of too much impact. Research and monitoring has clearly a higher priority than promoting a Galapagos scenario. An additional three sites have been earmarked to join the RAMSAR list in the near future, which includes the fabled Vallee de Mai on Praslin Island, home of the coco de mer palm trees.
The Seychelles’ two major economic activities, tourism and fishing, both depend on intact ecosystems and a high level of environmental protection, and it appears that government and civil society are committed to the preservation and, where necessary, best mitigation measures possible.
A new promotional brochure was launched for the tourism industry under the heading “Wetlands and Ecotourism in Seychelles,” which will give visitors to the archipelago added up-to-date information about these critical areas. The new material covers the 20 best-known ecotourism attractions on Mahe, a further 8 such sites on Praslin, and 7 on La Digue islands, while 9 more have been highlighted from other islands across the extensive island chain.
The policy and research unit at the Seychelles Tourist Board has confirmed that this initiative is a result of committing the country to the principles of ecotourism since 2003.
Visit the board’s website at www.seychelles.com for more information.