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Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks Network, South Africa


 

Seychelles protects an area as large as Britain

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There's great news from the Seychelles - they are to protect an area as large as Britain in the Indian Ocean.

The island has agreed to protect 81,000 square miles of ocean in exchange for getting some of its national debt paid off.   The swap was agreed with the Nature Conservancy, a US charity, and several investors back in 2016.   Future national debt payments will be directed into the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, which will offer lower interest rates on debt repayments.  Any savings will go to fund new projects to protect marine life and handle climate change effects.

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is just one of the investors which had worked on the deal.   The actor said the effort will serve as a model for future marine conservaiton projects world wide.   

An important part of the agreement is that the Seychelles is raising the amount of its protected waters by 2020 to 30% (from 0.04%) so that's a huge increase. 

The plan falls into two parts

  1. To create new marine parks covering the Aldabra islands - they are home to hundreds of thousand tortoises, nesting bird colonies, and the endangered dugong.   Only research and regulated tourism will be allowed.
  2. To limit fishing and tourism activities around the Seychelles main islands. 

The hope is to introduce similar actions in the Caribbean and other ocean regions facing threats from climate change. 

 

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