BHC and SPGA prepare for launch of ‘Green Footprint Seychelles’ • Highlight economic opportunity of sustainable tourism |14 September 2021
In anticipation of the launch of the British High Commission-funded ‘Green Footprint Seychelles’ campaign, staff from the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SPGA), the British High Commission (BHC) and volunteers from Global Vision International (GVI) participated in a pilot tree-planting activity at the Salazie Trail in the Morne Seychellois National Park last Friday.
This pilot activity – delivered in partnership between the BHC and SPGA – will inform the design and delivery of a larger-scale tree-planting pilot project, which will aim to support local experts to test a marketable and scientifically-developed tree-planting scheme as part of Seychelles’ green recovery of tourism.
Participants also piloted the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)-focused social media platform, Global Impact Network – introduced in Seychelles earlier this year – that serves to encourage people and businesses to take positive action towards the seventeen SDGs. Participants can collect sustainability activity-related ‘badges’ on the platform, including a ‘tree-planter’ badge, and share their positive experiences as well as track the impact of the activity on the application.
In preparation for the UK government’s leading role in responding to the climate crisis as host of November’s COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, the BHC has recognised that the crippling blow to the tourism industry from Covid-19 has accelerated longer-term projections on the decline of long-haul air travel, which may in turn bring a severe economic contraction to Seychelles over the longer term. This, coupled with the increased environmental conscience of European travellers, has already threatened to have a disproportionate impact on Seychelles, with European tourists becoming increasingly conscious of their ‘carbon footprint’.
The development and delivery of activities under the ‘Green Footprint Seychelles’ campaign would serve as just one small part of a developing movement – driven by local conservation and tourism experts – which would present an opportunity for Seychelles to use its world-leading environmental expertise and its entrepreneurial spirit, to promote itself as the green choice for European tourists.
Commenting on SPGA’s longer-term plans for the project, chief executive Allen Cedras, explained:
“The project started last year, but the pandemic brought about delays. In the background, SPGA has started preparing the site at Salazie, Sans Soucis. We have removed invasive plant species and have started producing endemic and native species that would be used specifically for the project. Although less than 1% of Seychelles is land-based, restoring terrestrial and marine coastal biodiversity is key to tackling both climate adaptation and mitigation. Maximising biodiversity can enhance productivity, ecosystem resilience and the provision of forest products and ecological services to local communities. Afforestation is a mandate of SPGA, but this is the first time that the authority partners with an organisation to work on a scientific method of assessing the contribution that this important activity makes towards the environmental and climate change impact of travel and tourism in Seychelles, through a nature-based solutions project. SPGA plans to expand this project to its other protected areas, with the hope of benefiting the country’s tourism industry.”
British High Commissioner, Patrick Lynch, said: “This is a project that the British High Commission is really excited about. As vaccinations begin to ease the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in our two countries, we are moving closer to the return of tourists from the UK, and many other countries that currently have travel restrictions in place. However, we are also mindful of the longer-term decline in long-haul travel, reflecting increased concern from consumers at the carbon impact of their holidays.
“The British High Commission Green Footprint project directly addresses this issue, by providing a way for tourists to engage in a planting activity that has been designed to offer a sustainable and effective way of offsetting carbon. We are delighted that our partners at SPGA – and the great volunteers from GVI – have joined us to do some digging at this pilot event ahead of the launch of the project. We have certainly proved that it is possible to have fun; even when you are up to your elbows in soil!
“Importantly, this project is just one small part of a wider movement to bring about a green recovery of tourism in Seychelles. Across the sector, local businesses recognise the real economic imperative of stepping up to the challenge of the climate crisis. Consumer behaviour is changing, and the market must change to reflect that. The good news is that Seychelles is better placed to respond than almost any other country in the world. With a combination of local environmental expertise, and entrepreneurial spirit, sustainable tourism can offer a real economic opportunity, rather than a threat.”
Press release from the British High Commission