Wetlands are extremely important. However, in the Seychelles, many people refer to wetlands as marshes, which is perceived as synonymous to dirty water.
To raise awareness about the importance of wetlands, students from Independent School Seychelles are restoring the wetland near their school under the MFF-funded project “Mangrove habitat rehabilitation through fostering of joint school-NGO custodianship”. This project is being implemented in partnership with the Green Islands Foundation (GIF).
The wetland is situated between the mainland of Mahe island and the reclaimed island of Ile du Port. It is approximately 80m wide and dominated by bare mud flats, with a few patches of mangroves. At high tide, the central channel is around 2-3m deep, with most of the wetland exposed at low tide.
When the tide goes out, hundreds of small mangrove seedlings that students from the Independent school have planted since March 2018 can be seen. The Rhizophora and Ceriops seedlings are doing very well, and the students check their progress every day. Even if there are no name tags on them, the kids know exactly which seedling is theirs. This change in their behavior gives the country hope for the future, creating a pool of future ‘wetland guardians’.
“Ever since the students started the mangrove planting activity, I noticed that they have become more conscious of their environment. Now when they cross the bridge over the wetland, they stop to observe their seedlings, they discuss with friends about the project and they do so with so much pride”, explains Meryl Derjacques, Coordinator of the primary school environment club ‘Frangipanie’.
The GIF-led project, which aims to empower teachers and children at the school, together with members from local youth NGO SYAH, to rehabilitate the wetlands around the school through the implementation of a field-based education programme is on the right track. In a few years, this reclaimed area will be greener and more biologically diverse, and generations to come will appreciate its importance.
Mangroves for the Future (MFF) is a partnership-based regional initiative which promotes investment in coastal ecosystem conservation for sustainable development. MFF focuses on the role that healthy, well-managed coastal ecosystems play in building the resilience of ecosystem-dependent coastal communities in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. The initiative uses mangroves as a flagship ecosystem, but MFF is inclusive of all types of coastal ecosystem, such as coral reefs, estuaries, lagoons, sandy beaches, sea grasses and wetlands. MFF is co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP, and is funded by Danida, Norad, and Sida and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Thailand.