18 Nov 2012
Why the Seychelles Scores High
The government of Seychelles invests a large part of
the budget in the protection of mangrove wetlands, salt marches and associated
ecosystems, to ensure proper ecosystem functioning and minimised adverse
impacts. According to Dr. Murugaiyan
of the Coastal Adaptation and Management Section, the Government spends between $U.S. 3.5 – 5 million annually on wetlands and river conservation and management.
So I was very happy to learn about the high Carbon Storage score for Seychelles in the Ocean Health Index. The mangrove forests, sea grass beds, and salt marshes found within the Seychelles archipelago have clearly contributed significantly to the high score. There has been little publicity about the achievement, but now that people are learning about it, there is great pride.
Besides the overall attitude toward conservation, there are several reasons why the Seychelles has maintained its carbon-storing habitats. The first is the distribution of the Seychelles population. More than 98% of the entire population of roughly 87,000 lives on the Inner Islands, which are called called “granitic” because they have been formed by a hard rock composition. As a result, less pressure has been put on the marine ecosystems of the outer islands, which are largely unpopulated.
Secondly, there has been no major degradation of our
coastline, apart from some minor tourism development, to promote foreign
earnings. Even these developments have had some impact, especially on our
mangrove forests, but the scale has been minimal, according to Dr. Murugaiyan.
Finally, the Seychelles, being a small country, is very lucky not to have a large number of major industries so that release of chemicals and pollution in the sea is relatively minimal and we are better able to manage our coastal ecosystem and maintain its good conditions.
Climate change will impact the Seychelles low-lying islands, and the government has worked to educate local communities and get them on board the marine environment conservation bandwagon. People have an increased understanding about the role of mangroves and seagrass beds in protection of the coastlines and coral reefs, and mangrove forest protection is being given major attention through public participation in its conservation. These strategies have been especially effective with young people and a large number of these youngsters are involved in mangrove rehabilitation and conservation.
Seychelles' high carbon scores can thus be described as a result of the collaboration of its people.