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BGF#4

Type: Large

SeyCCAT strategic objective: 1

Lead Project Partner: Seychelles Islands Foundation

Partners:

  • Education for Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU), Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD)
  • Sir Tim Smit, The Eden Project, UK
  • Joe Grabowski, Founder of Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants (EBTSOYP), Canada

Summary:

The Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) has carried out research on the Aldabra Atoll for over 40 years. Although SIF’s research informs Aldabra’s management and is frequently published in scientific journals, its full outreach potential has not yet been reached. Despite committed efforts and resources to education and outreach activities, Aldabra’s science and conservation remains largely inaccessible and not necessarily engaging to the general public. While recognised as Seychelles’ crown jewel, Aldabra’s remoteness and the public’s limited understanding of the atoll’s marine ecosystem services to Seychelles and the region can sell SIF’s investments short in the public eye and open discussions.

The Aldabra Reef Monitoring (ARM) programme has monitored coral reef, benthic communities and fish assemblages annually since 2013, following the re-structuring of previous monitoring conducted by Cambridge University researchers between 1999 and 2008 (Aldabra Marine Programme). SIF conducted extensive monitoring of Aldabra’s coral reefs before the bleaching (2013 to 2015) as well as all seasons after the event, with exciting results being recorded so far. To bridge the gap between science and its value to the general public, C4C aims to translate these and further scientific findings into digestible and valuable pieces of exciting information, engaging people on all levels.

Originally, SIF aimed to address this challenge through a recently cancelled remote-access visitor centre on Mahé (‘Aldabra House’). SIF is now turning to innovative communication to deliver Aldabra’s messages of hope, especially focusing on marine science, to a wider audience and increase public engagement.

COVID-19’s unprecedented disruption provides an opportunity for societal transformation that can respond to the ecological crisis. For SIF, this pandemic is an opportunity to highlight Aldabra’s incredible biodiversity and the importance of strict protection coupled with effective management. Working with an evidence-based management approach and building on the need to showcase Aldabra’s scientific work which informs national priorities, such as the marine spatial plan and the blue economy. C4C will enhance SIF’s communication outputs while boosting Aldabra’s internet facilities. The project will connect SIF’s scientific monitoring work in ‘real-time’ to local and international communities, and develop digital materials that promote the value of Aldabra’s marine ecosystems while showcasing best practices. Furthermore, ensuring non-scientific audiences are reached through C4C is key to inspiring the next generation and encouraging continuous investment in the protection of this natural laboratory and beacon of hope.

With national (ESDU) and international (Eden Project, EBTSOYP) collaborators, C4C will connect Aldabra with global audiences, creating exceptional and accessible knowledge-exchange spaces. Educational organisations, local schools, community groups, and NGOs will be C4C’s immediate beneficiaries, having direct access to new resources and the ability to participate in exciting events that explore Aldabra and its conservation success stories. Seychelles’ and the region’s general public, and the fisheries and tourism sectors will also benefit from being better informed of Aldabra’s ecosystem services and management practices. SeyCCAT strategic objectives 1 and 2, as well as its cross-cutting themes of policy and advocacy and education, training and outreach will benefit from having access to a prime and replicable communication project that promotes the benefits of marine protected areas and sustainable fisheries, in the face of the climate crisis and a global pandemic.

Moreover, C4C presents serious opportunities for increasing public engagement. During the period of this pandemic virtual knowledge exchange meetings have been normalised and calls for climate action are increasing. High impact events such as the Aldabra research station’s 50th anniversary, COP26 and the start of the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development are taking place, and are an ideal time for Aldabra and SIF to speak up and showcase the atoll’s outstanding universal value (OUV) and management success. In doing so C4C will contribute to the Seychelles National Development Strategy (2019–2023): pillars 2, 4, 5, 6 and the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy (2012–2020) chapters 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 13. Ultimately, this one-year project will enhance communication of Aldabra’s conservation values and management practices (1), scientifically monitor and communicate the state of its marine ecosystems in the face of ever-increasing threats from the climate crisis (2), and build capacity and collaborations in the marine science sector to contribute to a sustainable future for our ocean.

SeyCCAT funds:  SCR 1,000,000

Co-financing: SIF is committing an additional SCR 684,000 in cash to this project that will bring the total monetary value of the project to SCR 1,684,000.

Duration: 12 months

Project Application Form: Coming soon