Partners meet to discuss modalities of two new coastal, marine environment projects for the region

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Partners meet to discuss modalities of two new coastal, marine environment projects for the region

Post  Sirop14 on Fri Nov 17, 2017 12:39 pm

Partners meet to discuss modalities of two new coastal, marine environment projects for the region

17-November-2017

PS de Commarmond addressing delegates at the opening of the meeting yesterday

The different actions, activities, the budget requirements, work plan and other modalities related to two new projects which are critical to the sustainable development, conservation and protection of the coastal, marine environment and resources in the Western Indian Ocean are being discussed and finalised before they become operational.
Representatives of the different countries parties to Nairobi Convention -- Comoros, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya and Seychelles -- are meeting this week at the AVANI Seychelles Barbarons Resort to discuss, prioritise activities and actions and agree on how they want the two projects to move forward successfully.
Madagascar is absent from the meeting because of travel restrictions due to the plague outbreak there.
The two days of discussions was officially launched yesterday by the principal secretary for Environment Alain de Commarmond. Seychelles, in partnership with the Nairobi Convention, is hosting the meeting.
Dixon Waruinge, head of Nairobi Convention Secretariat, welcomed the delegates.
Other partner institutions namely Unep, UNDP, GEF are also taking part in the discussions.
Dr Akiko Yamamoto, the regional technical advisor for UNDP-GEF also addressed the delegates.
The two projects -- the Strategic Action Programme Policy Harmonization and Institutional Reforms (SAPPHIRE) and the Western Indian Ocean from land-based sources and activities (WIOSAP) projects will amount to US $415 million and are of a five-year duration.
Both projects are being funded under the GEF and will be executed by the Nairobi Convention secretariat.
The WIOSAP will address main threats to the coastal and marine ecosystems and critical habitat and their management. It will support countries in their effort to carry out policies, strategies. It will also address initiatives in improving water quality and waste water issues in the region’s marine and coastal areas and key river basins among others.
The SAPPHIRE project will focus on ocean governance, harmonise policies and institutional reforms with particular emphasis on the offshore waters. A strong emphasis will be given to capacity development of the region’s ocean governance.
The project will complement and coordinate closely with the WIOSAP and will harmonise activities leading to a single implementation strategy for the two programmes to improve regional governance in the marine and coastal sector.
The SAPPHIRE project will also allow for community and private sector engagement, participation and involvement in sustainable resource management.
“There is no doubt that these strategic actions can drive forward a much wider application of the Blue economy concept and its principles and also prevent climate change from undermining it thus enabling our coastal communities, economies and marine ecosystems to become more resilient and grow in a sustainable manner,” Mr de Commarmond explained.
He went on to point out that the beautiful Western Indian Ocean’s coastal and marine environments have started showing signs of degradation as a result of climate change and other human activities, threatening ecosystems and livelihoods, a point that Dr Yamamoto also highlighted.
“If this trend continues we will not be able to rely on the oceans any more,” Dr Yamamoto pointed out, noting that the oceans do not need us but we need them.
“There is therefore an urgent call in the region to restore critical habitats such as mangroves, coral reefs and sea grass that support fisheries, tourism as well as other economic activities,” Mr de Commarmond pointed out.

http://www.nation.sc/article.html?id=256578

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The Big Interview with Alain Decomarmond

Post  Sirop14 on Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:02 am

The Big Interview with Alain Decomarmond

Monday 20 November 2017

“If we don’t have a private entity involved, recycling won’t work”
In the new budget for the year 2018, the Ministry of Environment is scheduled to receive SCR87,081,000. The Principal Secretary of Environment gives TODAY an overview of the different projects we can expect from his ministry in the New Year.
by L. Valentino
The National Botanical Garden Foundation (NBGF) is receiving SCR13 million, how is this money going to be used?
The Foundation itself is responsible for three sites, including the Botanical Garden, the Biodiversity Centre and the State House gardens. Their primary role is to keep and maintain these areas and the green spaces in town. The Botanical Garden is gradually putting in place different infrastructure including a new café; a second one previously operated as Le Sapin is currently looking for potential partners to redevelop it. NBGF has also built a new toilet facility for the botanical garden, through the revenue collected.
There's also a new facility being built which will be promoted next year. It’s a perfect little spot for cocktails, ceremonies and events; we plan to rent it out, and it will help to generate revenue. There's also a plan for a sky rock. Priority on the list though for development is the visitor centre at Barbarons Biodiversity Centre.
Will a part of the budget go into building infrastructure for one of the themed areas at the Biodiversity Centre?
The Seychelles Biodiversity Centre was intended to create a place which is different to what we have in the two areas. We have the aesthetical horticultural practices providing a bank of endemic plants and certain other medicinal plant. It is a National Heritage place for all the native and endemic plants of Seychelles.
The site has been developed over many years, different pathways have been created and areas set with plants. Part of the area acts like a reservoir so that a certain amount of research can be done. There is a plan to provide a tourism aspect to the project as well so that it eventually becomes a tourism attraction.
Basically, a baseline has been created. Some plants have been planted; we have a nursery, now the challenge is to build the facility to allow tourism to come in. The main project of the Botanical Foundation now is the visitor welcome centre, with a shop, a café and merchandise shop to receive tourists.
To finance this project, funds will not be coming from the SCR13 million allocated in the budget. That money is going to be used for the administrative and operational aspects of the three areas. Funds for the visitor centre will have to come through the revenue that is collected from the NBGF as the centre is partly dependent on the government. However, it is expected to raise its own revenue.
This revenue will gradually be feeding into the project; this entails the money collected as entrance fees. At the same time NBGF will have to consider raising loans or partnering with the private sector. They have been looking at potential partners in reference to the tourism facility and will be launching the call as of next year.
There's mention in the budget of a Ministry of Environment building, please give details.
We have received a plot of land at Perseverance bordering the sea, behind the Family Hospital. The plan for the building is already approved and it will be developed through a public private partnership. We hope to enter that partnership next year.
Our dream was to have one building for all the departments, as we are renting offices in different places, including the Le Chantier, Orion Mall, Aarti Chambers. We will have a complex comprising all the staff under the Ministry of the two departments, Environment, Energy and Climate Change. SNPA will also be sharing the complex.
With respect to the landfill, the current landfill only has four-year lifespan, and the last landfill took four years to build, what is being done?
We are now looking at the trend and the pace at which the second landfill is filling, and we think that the current landfill will last at least four to five years. When the project was conceived we were hoping that at least Landfill Two would last around ten years but since then we got an increase in the influx of waste of 4% to 6% every year.
We have already started discussing with the European Union to see if they can assist us with the planning for a third landfill. There is a space next to the second one that we can use. We will start the process of putting a proposal to the European delegation based in Mauritius on a strategic action plan as of next year. We’re developing a master strategic action plan for the next ten years or so. Within that master plan there will be the call for a third landfill, so if everything goes well we will get assistance from the European Union.
When it comes to Landfill One on Providence, we are using it only for certain waste, specifically really bulky waste. Sometimes you have huge trucks coming in with construction waste, or trunks of trees as well as a lot of tyres.
Is there money in the budget to go towards the construction of a new landfill?
Not yet because it’s a huge investment, the second one cost over Euros 3 million for the whole construction, including the preparation of the site and the construction of the landfill and leachate plant.
Is there any implementation plan for recycling?
In January, the Revenue Commission will introduce a new levy on glass bottles. We are hoping to start with alcohol bottles.
Solid waste management looks at the different categories of waste, we had a strategy that was adopted by government some years back in reference to a waste free Seychelles. Within that programme we started some recycling. This was launched with the PET bottles and the aluminium cans redemption programme in 2007, next year we are going to start with glass bottles.
We need to work with the private sector to see how they can enter the market; if we don’t have a private entity involved recycling won’t work. In the past we have had someone that recycled paper, from which they made egg trays, takeaway boxes. However, economically it didn’t work.
You’re saying that if Seychelles decides to go towards recycling we would have to depend on the private sector?
We have to have a partner. Ideally we would like to have a company where either we work in partnership and send them the tyres or they come here and invest in it. It’s a massive investment. We have tried to see if somebody would be interested receive these if we exported them, we have looked at China but we have seen that some of the countries that use to receive these waste are changing their environmental policies so they are no longer accepting them.
Is there any possibility of making energy out of seaweed, considering students have been working on such projects?
In reference to seaweed we haven’t had received much interest. We looked at an investment from Praslin; the investor wants to start producing bio-fertiliser using seaweed from beaches. The factory will be located on Eve Island. In regards to energy this is something that the government is still exploring to see whether it’s something we can look into in the future but it is a very technical matter. But certainly there is a potential for green biological waste, it can be seaweed, or trees collected from landscaping; that’s where the most potential is in reference to waste to energy. So we’re going to use the green waste, burn it and then convert it to energy. That’s something the government wants to go for actually.
It is noted in the Budget that protected areas will be raised from 46.6% to 50%, where are these areas? Cabinet also recently approved for two new marine protected areas, an area around Aldabra, and another between Amirantes and Fortune Bank, is this included in this percentage?
Right now we have terrestrial protected areas and marine protected areas. Over 49% of Seychelles terrestrial areas are protected; we will continue to expand it with, for example, Grand Police, Anse Lazio and Anse Source D’Argent and other islands that eventually will add to it.
For the marine areas we have been undertaking a marine spatial plan exercise for the last four years whereby we have to maintain a target to protect 30% of the 1.3 million square metres of our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This is in line with our environmental policies and also forms part of the debt swap arrangement with the Paris Club. This ensures that the marine area goes to conservation.
The first 15% in regard to Aldabra involves the actual expansion of an already strict nature reserve, meaning we’re making it bigger. The area between Amirantes and Fortune Bank will also fall in the 15%, but it will be categorized differently, it will be classified as a sustainable use area; it will allow certain level of economic activities, tourism and fisheries but controlled by certain amount of extraction in that area.
The approval by Cabinet is only for the first 15% which includes Aldabra, Amirantes and the Fortune Bank. The next 15% will come as of next year and in 2019 for the other areas, so as to reach the final 15%.
An extra SCR6.9 million was given for sustaining river and wetlands in the Budget, what will this be used for?
The Department of Energy and Climate Change is responsible for all the work being done in the sea, drainage and the maintenance of rivers and wetlands. They have contractors that clean and maintain rivers and wetlands; the programme is a long-running one. However, in the new budget they received an extra SCR6.9million. This will add new rivers and wetlands to the existing list; basically, this is so they can cover more areas. There are a couple of international projects also. There’s a major one that is looking at water catchment areas like Anse Lazio.
What about the Seychelles National Park Authority?
There’s a lot of effort by SNPA to improve the trails’ maintenance, signage and information boards. The idea is to improve the visitor experience. This will be done between the SNPA and the Global Environment Facility through an international project for protected areas; essentially, it will improve many facilities for visitors.
On Mahé it will maintain the trails’ signage and help with management plans for protected areas. On La Digue they will be upgrading the visitor centre at the Dept. of Environment’s office. The project will not only help SNPA but also other organisations such as Nature Seychelles, SIF, MCSS and others with aspects of their revenue. The idea is for them to generate their own revenue, helping them with their products and services, marketing, management plans and also ways to raise money to finance conservation.
There's a plan to rebuild the Archives at the Botanical Gardens which burnt down this year. Will it be located in the same area? What was lost in the fire?
The plan is to build another Archives near the new toilet facility at the Botanical Gardens. As per the previous location, that area will be rebuilt to complement the restaurant.
They lost substantially in the fire, as that was the main office block and the ex-situ conservation lab which was funded by the Thai government. There was a loss of office equipment and many documents, but there is some information in the National Archives that was saved. Since the fire, the offices have moved to Orion Mall.
Is there any new development planned for Curieuse Island?
Not major things, there’s going to be improvement of the trails, visitor facility, the restaurant and some other facilities. Right now there's a barbecue facility, this is going to be upgraded. On the other side where the tortoises are, they are going to have a new restaurant facility. But it won’t be a full-fledged cooking restaurant, just a facility to serve food, very low key.
What is the plan for Fond Ferdinand on Praslin?
Cabinet approved a strategic framework recently for Fond Ferdinand; we had a meeting recently with the two members of the National Assembly and District Administrators of both districts to present the framework to them and there is agreement that on the running, administration and management of the reserve.
Next in line is a meeting with the business community. There's a marketing plan and business plan to increase visitors and improve the product. We are going to have a wider public meeting to discuss this.
All these years Fond Ferdinand has operated as a Reserve, informally, without having a formal designation; through the framework it will be formalised as a Nature Reserve. One of the plans is to have a research facility for young students and researchers, so that before or after they go to university they can learn about conservation there for a couple of years.

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