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Seychelles’ Protected Areas Policy

Protected Areas in the Seychelles have been established since the 70’s for multiple reasons. Mostly, however, they are to protect biodiversity where it is most abundant or vulnerable and/or to protect land and sea scape values. To date, more than 47% of the total land area of the Seychelles in under legal protection. These protected areas currently fall under different pieces of legislation. Some of these protected areas have management plans. However, there is a great need to review and synergize management priorities in the country. This is best achieved through the development of a policy. A policy consists of a set of principles or rules to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. Although the country has a strong legal and policy framework for ‘environmental management’, the only official national policy specific to protected areas is the Conservation Policy in the Seychelles (1971) derived from Seychelles Tourism Policy (1969) and the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Ordinance (1969). There is hence a need to develop a Protected Areas Policy for the Seychelles, which is updated and takes into consideration the countries’ international obligations. Consequently, this Protected Area policy was developed under the UNDP-GEF Project “Strengthening Seychelles’ protected area system through NGO management modalities”. The policy seeks to provide a national policy framework for the elaboration of legislation and associated guidelines for the establishment, coordination, guidance and management of PAs in Seychelles. The vision of this policy is 4 ‘To have a Protected Areas System on land and in the sea that protects and conserves high quality, comprehensive and ecologically representative examples of the Seychelles’ natural diversity and cultural heritage and that provides ample opportunities for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the sustainable use of these resources’ The specific goals and objectives of the policy are to achieve an effective and multi-use protected area system that is representative, comprehensive and balanced, to maintain the highest quality examples of ecosystems within the country by engaging all stakeholders. Thirteen national commitments will be targeted in order to achieve these objectives. The first commitment listed in the policy is ‘to create new PA categories in accordance to international norms’. Consequently, the policy simplifies the multiple existing PA Categories into five new categories which take into consideration both the local context and at the same time are aligning with International (IUCN) criteria. This new system retains the best of the categories that were codified in law in 1969, but also rationalises and simplifies the categories. The policy further describes procedures to organise the PAs of Seychelles into a Protected Areas System Plan, which is both a national commitment set out in this policy and an International (CBD) commitment. Other commitments include the developments of a standardised PA management plan and the measurement of management effectiveness for each existing and new protected areas, the adoption of an internationally recognized process for long-term monitoring of the Protected Areas system, the development of a new program to enhance capacity in PA systems with linkages to local and/or international academic and research institutions and the support of new initiatives to find sustainable financing mechanisms for the protected areas system. The policy summarises best practices for management planning of PAs, for measuring management effectiveness, sustainable financing, capacity development and for stakeholder and public involvement in PAs. It introduces and outlines the concepts of co-management and proposes templates for co-management agreements for PAs in Seychelles. Lastly, to facilitate the re-formulation and extension of a new PA system, a new nomination process is proposed which includes clear and well-defined entry points and is based on the principle of transparency so that all stakeholders and government agencies will know when, where and how PAs may be established. This policy document encompasses all marine and terrestrial habitats and ecosystems of the Seychelles’ territory and its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the Ministry responsible for Environment, through the designated agency/ies shall oversee its implementation. Following revision of existing legislation governing Protected Areas, a new Protected Areas legislation will become the principle statute which is complimented by this policy. An objective, independent review and update of this policy will be completed every 10 years.
Seychelles’ Protected Areas Policy
Policies | Ministry of Environment & Energy, | 29/07/2015
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