The Seychelles Government has announced that it will declare new protected areas in the archipelago, resulting in half (50.59%) of all Seychelles land becoming protected by law. The Cabinet approved the designation of protected areas, which amount to 15.72 km² of land representing 3.53% of Seychelles land territory and total 45,500 hectares. Last year, the Silhouette National Park and the Recif Island Reserve were created, increasing the total area of protected land to 47.06%.
The latest decision follows the 2010 announcement of Seychelles President James Michel that Seychelles will protect 50% of its land territory, as a contribution to fulfilling its obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to ensure conservation of the archipelago’s biodiversity for the well-being of present and future Seychellois generations and visitors to the islands.
“We will become the first country in the world that has half of its territory protected as national parks and nature reserves. This will ensure that our most beautiful islands remain in the hands of all Seychellois, for many generations to come. We will show the world how important it is to preserve this precious natural heritage for sustainable development of a small island nation, for tourism development, as well as the protection of our planet for our children,” said President Michel.
“The announcement by the President of Seychelles to declare 50% of the country’s land territory as protected areas is an outstanding contribution to the achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and a major contribution to the implementation of the decision by the Heads of State of the African Union adopted in February this year, elevating biodiversity as a priority in all relevant programmes and activities of the African Commission,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The new protected areas will include the Curieuse National Park, South Island Farquhar National Park, Goëlettes Island (Farquhar) and Banc de Sable Special Reserves, Grand and Petite Polyte (Cosmoledo), Grande Ile (Cosmoledo) Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Desnoeufs Island Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Saint Françoise & Bijoutier National Park, South Island National Park (Poivre), and Assumption Island National Park.
Cabinet approval is the first step towards designating the protected areas. The Seychelles Department of Environment will now work on the demarcation points of the protected areas. Regulations and statutory instruments as well as conservation management plans will be prepared before the designation orders become law.