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BGF#3

Type: Large

SeyCCAT strategic objective: 3

Lead Project Partner: Terrestrial Restoration Action Society of Seychelles

Partners:

  1. Seychelles National Park Authority
  2. Praslin EBA Watershed Committee
  3. Wildlife club of Seychelles

Summary:

Wetlands are considered as the kidneys of the landscape for the biogeochemical and hydrologic functions that they provide. They prevent floods, cleans waters, protect shorelines and recharge aquifers. Wetlands provide a haven for a wide variety of flora and fauna and offer a unique habitat for many rare, endangered species as well as migrants. Lowland wetlands including mangrove are considered as the most threatened and critical habitats in Seychelles. A loss of 90% of the area due to reclamation, sedimentation, pollution and drainage. In addition, Invasive Alien Species which ranks as the number one factor leading to biodiversity loss in tropical islands including the Seychelles further impacts onto the limited wetlands. Encroachment and overgrowth by IAS reduce the sizes of wetlands, reduces hydrological flows, encourage excess sedimentation which transforms the wetland in raised islands and banks which further facilitates IAS encroachment and spread.

The riparians and coastal wetlands which were once connected to all rivers, marshes and mangroves have been reclaimed and greatly fragmented, and most wetlands are even gone from the landscape (90%). With their loss, and the degradation of the few remaining one, our wetlands have lost their ability to cleanse themselves and the lagoons, seagrasses and coral reef are no longer buffered from upland regions.

The proposed project addresses the degradation of critical wetland habitats at Pasquière within the Curieuse Marine National Park. There is a need for rehabilitation and management of degraded but critical coastal habitats (river, freshwater marsh, mangrove, beach crest) in this area by working together with communities, organizations and local government to encourage and ensure local community participation in restoration efforts, as direct involvement may inspire better stewardship and a keener sense of project ownership by local communities.

Interest in the project site dates back to 2010 when there were concerns from local people who noticed that the mangrove patch was deteriorating especially after some development in the area and hence wanted to take action to investigate the problems further, raise awareness amongst local communities, propose and implement management actions to remediate the problem. A project was implemented in 2010 by TRASS and funded by the Mangrove For the Future (MFF) to understand some of the issues particularly related to impacts of soil erosion and sediment deposition in the wetlands. Later, in 2014, the alarm was raised by the community and TRASS because the mangrove dieback was persisting. Further investigation confirmed oil pollution of the mangrove from a nearby establishment. Actions were taken by the Department of Environment who requested the establishment to undertake the necessary measures to mitigate the impacts. TRASS did monitoring of the mangrove to advise on the rehabilitation of the affected mangroves and the Seychelles National Park Authority implemented some rehabilitation activities. Thereafter follow-up activities were discontinued. To date, the site is not being maintained and there is a need to rehabilitate the mangroves together with the associated freshwater marsh, rivers and beach crest.

SeyCCAT funds:   SCR 948,262

Co-financing:  SCR 965,688

Duration: 24 months

Project Application Form: Terrestrial Restoration Action Society of Seychelles‘s project application

 

Progress

  1. Collecting Baseline Environmental Data

Surveys are being carried out to assess; biodiversity and habitat (collected using ‘Biodiversity Exploration’ in the ‘Collect’ app), of which 7 have been completed, and aquatic conditions (physiochemical characteristics), which has been postponed due to poor conditions but is ongoing.

  1. Clearing IAS

Approximately 1 hectare of IAS has been cleared on the coastal plateau, around marshes and lower river course, particularly of Cocoplum.

  1. Propagating Seedlings

To date, 900 seedlings from 3 different species (Bonnen kare, Bwadtab and Bwa sousouri) have been prepared in the TRASS nursery and 600 more seedling preparations (Manglive lat) are in progress to meet the 1500 seedling goal. There has also been some early planting of 26 bamboo seedlings above the sedimentation ponds to help filter and absorb pollutants in the water before it reaches the mangrove and lagoon.

  1. Community Involvement

Relations have been established with the Raffles Hotel which had an oil leak into the mangrove in 2012. Although not a planned partner, the hotel has had several meetings and site visits with TRASS and has become involved in various aspects. Door-to-door canvassing with residents to inform them of the project has been completed and the general community response suggests a desire to participate in the project. Through these interactions, one of the landowners proposed planting coconuts along the beach crest and coastal plateau. This proposal is now being incorporated into the project with 100 coconut seedlings now being prepared.

  1. Education and Awareness

Two TRASS interns from UniSey, accompanied by 4 school volunteers, carried out activities as part of the project education aim. This included ‘Be a Biologist for a Day’, involving carrying out surveys of the mangrove, marsh and beach, and learning to identify birds, lizards and geckos. They also undertook mangrove identification where they learnt about the characteristics of mangrove. Two factsheets have been produced by the UniSey students on the green gecko and the oriental mangrove to contribute to educational materials for younger children.