Cousine Island © Martin Harvey
The island is not legally protected and the owner is not obliged to conserve its biodiversity, but the company has voluntarily put in a comprehensive program for environmental protection using its own resources. It employs a full time Conservation Officer who works in close collaboration with the hotel manager.
The idea of setting up the hotel is to bring in sufficient revenues to maintain the conservation and research programs on the island and to maintain it as a high biodiversity area. The company supports other conservation programs in Seychelles, for example the Magpie Robin Recovery Program and the Seychelles Seabird Group. It is a partner with Nature Seychelles in the World Bank Global Environment Facility funded project for private island conservation.
A maximum of eight guests are accommodated at any one time and share the island with its natural inhabitants, offering some of the closest encounters with nature available in the Seychelles. As the island’s creatures have no natural predators, they have no fear of humans and often one has the feeling of not knowing quite who is watching whom!
Whilst a leader in private conservation projects, Cousine has also been interested in “greening” its operations. It is exploring ISO 14000 environmental certification, and already has systems for water and energy conservation as well as environmentally friendly solid waste disposal.
On many islands around the world, tourism has led to damage and pollution of the water table as well as to massive overuse of water. Cousine is an exception. Water for the hotel and its operations no longer needs to be extracted from the well and water-table.
A most impressive water management program is in place and is based on rain water harvesting. The island has a storage capacity of 350,000 litres of rainwater, using solar-powered heating, UV and sediment filtration which allows potable and heated water in all accommodations and kitchen
The new Island Management Plan will be aiming for complete energy sufficiency by 2010. Currently Cousine has solar powered freezers as well as solar water heating units. A freezer unit on Cousine needs only four hours of power per day, controlled by timers.
Solar energy is easy to gather but very hard to store. A few grey days may require generator back-up – Cousine management is researching options for better storage and new technologies. Items such as revolving light-sensitive solar cells are planned - these can operate under low-light (overcast) and low heat days.
Back-up generators are used with extra precautions to prevent accidents, leaks, spills. The long term goal of the island management is to remove reliance on fuelled generators completely.
Cousine is an excellent example of how up market resorts in Seychelles can not only use tourism revenues to conserve wildlife but also put in place environmentally friendly infrastructure.
Nature Seychelles, 14th June 2006