Case Study by: Austin Perez
The Republic of Seychelles is a small island nation consisting of an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off the eastern coast of Africa. The natural environment of Seychelles is a stunningly beautiful topical paradise, with crystal clear blue water and pristine white sand beaches. The economy of Seychelles is largely dependent on preserving a healthy natural environment for tourism purposes and to maintain sustainable fisheries, and the Seychellois people are deeply interconnected with the wild nature of the island ecosystems in their every day lives. The Seychelles government has therefore taken significant action to establish a nation that is committed to preserving and protecting its natural environment by enacting policies that protect more than half of the nation’s total terrestrial land area and 30% of its marine territory by law.
The government of Seychelles has demonstrated its dedication to conserving and protecting its natural environment by enacting laws and policies that work to ensure the long-term vitality and preservation of its wild nature. The Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles, which was enacted in 1993, guarantees its citizens the right to a clean environment, and at the same time also obliges its citizens to work to protect the Seychelles’ natural environment. Article 38 of the Constitution of Seychelles states that it is “the right of every person to live in and enjoy a clean, healthy, and ecologically balanced environment,” and that that the state undertakes the responsibility of taking measures to protect, preserve, and improve the environment and to ensure the judicious and sustainable usage and management of Seychelles’ natural resources. Article 40 of the Constitution of Seychelles dictates that “it shall be the duty of every citizen of Seychelles to protect, preserve, and improve the environment.” The language incorporated into Seychelles’ Constitution establishes its commitment to preserving its environment, and it has furthered this dedication set forth in the Constitution by enacting several policies to ensure the long-term preservation of its wild nature.
In July of 2011, the Seychelles government announced its intention to declare several new protected areas in the archipelago, resulting in over half (50.59%) of its total land area becoming protected by law. In addition to protecting its terrestrial land area, Seychelles has also demonstrated a significant dedication to protecting its marine environment as well. Seychelles has created fourteen Marine Protected Areas covering 30% of the nation’s total marine territory, with 15% of the total marine environment being designated as no-take areas.
Aldabra Giant Tortoise © Mike Hunter
In 2010, Seychelles President James Michel declared that Seychelles would protect at least 50% of it total land area to ensure the conservation of the archipelago’s biodiversity for the well-being of present and future generations of Seychellois and visitors to the islands. President Michel stated that Seychelles “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.”
Coco de Mer © Jon Bowermaster
Seychelles’ isolated geographic location has created an ecosystem that is home to an abundance of very unique species of flora and fauna, many of which exist only in the islands of the archipelago. Seychelles is home to the Aldabra Giant Tortoise, which is the largest giant tortoise population in the world, and lives almost exclusively on the islands of the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles. It is also home to two species of very unique trees: the Coco de Mer, a palm tree that grows only in Seychelles, and the jellyfish tree, a critically endangered species that is endemic only to the Seychelles island of Mahé. The rare Seychelles Black Parrot and the Seychellum freshwater crab genus are also further examples of the exceptional species that are unique to Seychelles. Island ecosystems are notorious for their fragility and inability to effectively adapt to changes in the environment caused by human activity. The policies enacted by the Seychelles government to protect more than half of its land area and 30% of its marine environment demonstrates a realization of the delicate balance that exists on the island ecosystems of Seychelles, and expresses a major commitment to protecting its extraordinary biodiversity.
Jellyfish Tree © The Brocken InaGlory
Although Seychelles may be a small and remote island nation, the conservation policies that it has established are an excellent example for other countries around the world to look to when developing their own policies. Seychelles has adopted the Nature Needs Half vision by protecting over half of its total land area and 30% of its marine environment, and by guaranteeing its citizens the right to a clean, healthy, and ecologically balanced environment. By doing so, Seychelles has created a framework for preserving this astonishingly beautiful tropical paradise and protecting the amazing species of wildlife that call it home.