The Seychelles government has announced that it will declare new protected areas in the archipelago, which will result in half of all Seychelles land becoming protected under the law.
The cabinet approved the designation of protected areas earlier this week, which will amount to 15.72 km2 of land, representing 3.53 per cent of Seychelles land territory, which totals 45,500 hectares (excluding reclaimed area).
Last year, the Silhouette National Park and the Recif Island Reserve were created, and the total area of protected land had reached 47.06 per cent.
The latest decision follows the Seychelles president’s announcement in 2010 that Seychelles has the target to protect 50 per cent of its land territory in order to show the country’s commitment to be a global leader in environmental conservation.
Emphasis was also placed on fulfilling Seychelles obligations under Article 8 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to ensuring conservation of the archipelago’s biological diversity 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,” said Seychelles president James Michel.
“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, both for sustainable development of a small island nation, for tourism development, as well as the protection of our planet for our children.”
The new protected areas will be 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), Assumption Island National Park.
These islands will be entirely protected, with the exception of the islands of Curieuse that will have 96%vof the island protected under law, and the island of Assumption would have half of its land under protection.
The islands that will receive legal protection meet the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) criteria for consideration as Special Reserves and National Park based on their rich biodiversity and provision of suitable habitats for endangered marine and terrestrial fauna and flora.
The cabinet approval is the first step in the designation process.
The Department of Environment will now work on the demarcation points of the protected areas, and regulations and statutory instruments, as well as conservation management plans will be prepared before the designation orders are signed in order to become law this year.