SEYCHELLES TO BOLSTER PROTECTION OF BIODIVERSITY
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SEYCHELLES TO BOLSTER PROTECTION OF BIODIVERSITY

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The Ridge to Reef (R2R) Project, funded by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be undertaking an exercise to identify potential areas rich in biodiversity.

The Ridge to Reef (R2R) Project, funded by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be undertaking an exercise to identify potential areas rich in biodiversity.

This exercise is planned to be conducted at six key biodiversity areas in upland forest ecosystems which will ultimately be designated as new protected areas.

According to the Project Manager, Joanna Prosper, the main goal is to strengthen the management capacity and assess the status for such areas. The mapping exercise will take place on the islands of Mahé, Praslin and Curieuse Island.

Mrs. Prosper estimates a coverage of about 2,235 ha of upland forest ecosystems, with a focus on conserving biodiversity and carbon stocks.

Elvina Henriette, a consultant on the R2R Project expresses, "Key biodiversity areas have a lot of important functions from protecting the watersheds that provide us with potable water to providing a home for unique plants and animals found only in Seychelles. They are truly a great treasure to be secured for the next generations."

Once completed, the identification exercise will provide the Ministry of Environment with much-needed data for future management of these areas or consideration for their status to be elevated to protected areas.

Additionally, the project will support the process to prepare the required documentations and recommendations for the legal gazetting of these areas which are under private ownership. In this light, private landowners, as well as other partners will be consulted during the exercise which will end in January 2022.

"The project will be exploring possible management structures for these sites and will consider piloting several different management approaches, including community management by private landowners and local community groups, or co-management with other partners such as the Seychelles National Parks Authority and not for profit organisations," added Prosper.

According to the Manager, the project will pilot a new approach for Seychelles aimed at resolving issues related to private lands within protected areas.

"[…] help the government to determine a policy or process for putting private lands under varying forms of protection, as well as efforts to ensure that Key Biodiversity Areas are considered in government land use planning processes," concluded Prosper.

Another consultant involved with this exercise said that the mapping will be accompanied by a series of awareness, sensitisation and educational activities.

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