International Day for Biological Diversity |08 June 2022
NGOs and government working towards safeguarding our biological diversity
To commemorate the International Day for Biological Diversity, the Biodiversity Conservation and Management Division (BCM) within the department of Environment in the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE) hosted a workshop yesterday at the Savoy Resort & Spa.
The division was able to give an overview of its works, challenges and future projects.
A number of organisations – Seychelles Islands Foundation, Key Biodiversity Areas Project, Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, Nature Seychelles, Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan, Seychelles Fisheries Authority, Island Conservation Society, Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority and Save Our Seas Foundation – provided a general overview of conservation works in the country with their achievements, opportunities and challenges.
The event was graced by the presence of the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment Flavien Joubert; the Minister for Education, Dr Justin Valentin; Ambassador Ronny Jumeau and the principal secretary for Environment, Denis Matatiken. There was also a large group of students coming from different schools attending the workshop.
Addressing the participants, Minister Joubert noted that this workshop is a testimony that all sectors – government, NGOs, private sector among others – need to work together to tackle pertinent issues contributing to the biodiversity crisis.
“Activities done in the past have focused on improving the status of many endangered species, restoration of degraded forests, designation of marine protected areas and strengthening policies and legislations to guide the works of the different ministries. It is critical to develop educational campaign programme for a successful delivery. While we celebrate the many accomplishments, it is also important to reflect on the challenges we face and how we are going to deal with the crisis at hand,” expressed Minister Joubert.
He noted that nature is threatened by both natural and anthropogenic factors. “We cut trees faster than they re-grow, and catch fish at a faster rate than they repopulate without thinking of the consequences of our actions.
“The loss of biodiversity is a crisis with long lasting consequences for sustainable development and livelihoods. It is important that we take a step back and re-examine our relationship with the natural world. We cannot continue to go about business as usual. We are at a stage where irreversible loss of biodiversity threatens the future for our generations to come. Protecting the environment is everyone’s business and should be a way of life for each and every one of us. The time to act is now,” said the minister.
Minister Joubert encouraged all the organisations present to keep working towards making Seychelles better and cleaner and bring biodiversity closer to everyone.
He reaffirmed the commitment of government towards this noble cause.
Ashley Dias, director of BCM, gave a brief explanation on the Seychelles biological diversity and shared some important figures: endemism is high at 50-85% for different animal groups, in general, and at approximately 45% for plants. “There are 13 species and 17 subspecies of endemic birds and an estimated 1,200 marine fish species occur with only 1-2% endemics. 28 species of marine mammal are also currently known to utilise Seychelles’ waters. The Seychelles’ forest coverage is estimated to be approximately 71%. And we have eight species of mangrove occuring naturally in Seychelles. The ancient granitic islands are estimated to have 80 species of endemic flowering plants out of some 900 in total, whereas the coral islands harbour some 30- 40 endemics out of 260 species.
“The division is currently implementing, coordinating and in some instances overseeing the implementation of several biodiversity related projects. The BCM division oversees the implementation of several biodiversity related-Conventions and work on policies and legislation represents a very large proportion of BCM work. We also monitor and enforce laws when it comes to - Animal welfare, lighting of fire, tree felling Inspections of species harvested from the wild: sea cucumber, sharks, coco de mer kernel etc. We also issue permits for different activities such as species trade, lighting of fire, tree felling,” said Ms Dias.
The students were also able to chat with our Miss Environment Seychelles, Elsia Françoise, during break time and get inspired by her.