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Conservation Policy

The Seychelles has a long history of conservation measures and management initiatives from the first decrees of De Malavois in the late 1770s and his initiative to establish reserves for giant tortoises in the late 1780s.

In 1874 the first nature reserve was established when the Fond Ferdinand – Anse Marie-Louise area was purchased as Coco-de-Mer reserve – the land purchases were in fact made between 1876-1878. 

Most early legislation and measures however were species specific rather than area designation and focused primarily on key resource species like tortoises and turtles.

The modern era of conservation and protected area policy in Seychelles is commonly considered to have started in the 1960s, stimulated by the works of Swabey (1960) and Jeffrey (1962), with various protected area based legislation being enacted notably: the Protection of Shells Ordinance (1965), the Wild Birds Protection (Nature Reserves) Regulations 1966 and most notably the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Ordinance 1969.

These legal tools were put in context however by the work of John Procter. Mr. Procter was appointed by the then UK government Ministry of Overseas Development to advise the Seychelles Government on:

“…the establishment of national parks and other reserves covering areas of scientific and cultural interest in the islands.”

Procter’s subsequent 1970 report and recommendations provided the basis for the development of the 1971 Government white paper entitled the “Conservation Policy in the Seychelles”.

This policy accompanied the development of the Seychelles Tourism Policy (1969) and the coming into force of two ordinances: the 1969 National Parks and Nature Conservancy Ordinance (latterly known as the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Act or the NPNCA) and the 1970 Town and Country Planning Ordinance.  This suite of initiatives was aimed at providing a framework to effectively manage the foreseen rapid expansion of development that would accompany the opening of the international airport. Thereby enabling the wise development of the tourism industry whilst providing for:

“the attractions that tourists will seek, and above all to protect the natural beauty of these islands, which from all points of view, including tourism, is probably our greatest asset”.

The 1971 conservation policy therefore sought to set out in detail how the Government intended to protect this asset through the designation of PAs where “characteristic wildlife could be conserved in its natural surroundings, for the enjoyment of the public”.

The policy cited the below definition of conservation as its general objective:

Conservation to mean “the wise use or management of resources so that at the end the resource is no poorer or less able to renew itself than at the beginning” and sought to attain this objective over the long term by observing the following principles:

  1. Examples of natural habitats must be preserved for the people of Seychelles and for the world at large, in order to make it possible to study individual species and to retain biological systems where natural processes can be studied and put to beneficial use by man.
  2. Extensively distributed natural resources should be protected and developed to ensure that they remain a source of food, materials or revenue.
  3. Appropriate areas should be protected and developed for public recreation and enjoyment, both for the people of Seychelles and for tourists.

The policy expanded upon the role of the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Commission established under the NPNCA. It stated the requirement for public notice and the provision for affected parties to make representations for consideration, before the decision on designation of a PA is made as set out in the National Parks and Nature Conservancy (Procedure for Designation of areas) Regulations, 1971. It states that it is intended that each PA will have a management plan. It furthermore expresses the objective that in the long term National Parks in so far as is possible should be state-owned whilst recognizing the NPNCA provides the Commission with “…adequate power for the efficient management of national parks, even though they may be partly in private ownership.”

The policy then sets out an agenda for the designation of PA’s, noting that the ongoing process of establishment should be guided by expanding knowledge and research, and that the listing provided in no way precluded the designation of additional areas in the future.

To this day, the Conservation Policy white paper remains the only official explicit Policy statement with regard to PAs in Seychelles and, having never been officially rescinded, remains policy today almost by default. This however would be very much a simplification of the work undertaken (including legal developments) in the interim much of which has reviewed, commented upon, made recommendations regarding or had implications for PA policy in Seychelles.”

HISTORY OF PROTECTED AREA LEGISLATION
Year
Legislation

 

1961

 

Wild Animals and Birds Protection Ordinance

1965 Shells Ordinance
1966 Wild Birds Protection (Nature Reserves) Regulations
1967 Protected Areas Act
1969 The National Parks and Nature Conservancy Ordinance
1971 The National Parks and Nature Conservancy (Procedure for designation of Areas) Regulations
1971 Shells Act
1973 The National Parks (Saint Anne Marine) (Designation) Order
1975 National Parks (Saint Anne Marine) Regulations
1975 The National Parks and Nature Conservancy (Special Reserve Aride Island) (Designation) Order
1979 National Parks (Morne Seychellois) (Designation) Order
  National Parks (Baie Ternay Marine) (Designation) Order
  National Parks (Curieuse marine) (Designation) Order
  National Parks (Port Launay Marine) (Designation) Order
1979 National Parks (Praslin) (Designation) Order
1979 National Parks (Aride Island Special Reserve) Regulations
1979 National Parks (Cousin Island Special Reserve) Regulations
1979 SIF Founded
1981 National Parks (Port Launay Marine) Regulations
1981 National Parks (Special Reserve Aldabra) (Designation) Order.
1981 National Parks (Aldabra Special Reserve) Regulations
1981 The Conservation of Marine Shells Act Repealed the 1971 Act
1984 Seychelles Fishing Authority (Establishment) Act
1987 National Parks (Silhouette Marine) (Designation) Order
1987 Protected Areas (African Banks and surrounding Reefs) Order
1987 Protected Areas (Ile Cocos, Ile la Fouche and Ilot Platte and surrounding areas) Order
1991 National Parks (La Digue Veuve Special Reserve) (Designation) Order
1991 National Parks (La Digue Veuve Special Reserve) Regulations
1991 National Parks (Curieuse Marine National Park) Regulations
1992 Transfer of Statutory Functions (Seychelles national environment Commission) Order.
1997 National Parks (Ile Cocos, Ile la Fouche, Ilot Platte Marine ) (Designation) Order
2009 National Parks (Moyenne National Park) (designation) Order.
“The Government’s policy statement on tourism development in Seychelles emphasized the overriding need to protect the natural beauty of the islands and their natural environment, which are among our greatest assets. It was envisaged that one of the most important ways of achieving this should be through the designation of national parks and other reserves and through the protection of areas where characteristic wildlife could be conserved in its natural surroundings, for the enjoyment of the public.”