University of Seychelles Students following a course in environmental science visited Nature Seychelles on Monday 27th. The students were on a practical field visit whose aim is to enable them to see conservation in action. They were accompanied by their lecturers Will Dogley and Rachel Onezime.
The students were received by Nature Seychelles' Chief Executive Dr. Nirmal Shah who also delivered a talk on the organization's work and its successes, before conducting the students on a tour of two sites managed by Nature Seychelles - the Heritage Garden and Sanctuary at Roche Caiman.
The students heard that through practical conservation work, Nature Seychelles had helped bring back birds that were going extinct, pioneered island restoration programmes that had re-establish important habitats and created successful partnerships among NGOs and islands for the management of biodiversity. It had also undertaken exciting education and awareness activities via radio, TV, published materials and through training and curricula.
Dr. Shah said that new projects that the organizations is involved in are helping in climate change adaptation and mitigation and that the NGO has also launched new programmes to make conservation relevant to more people.
"We think it's very important to talk to the next generation of scientists and environmentalists, as we will depend on them in the future" said Shah.
Several opportunities exists for students to prepare for this. Among those discussed was attachment with international scientists and graduate students undertaking research work in Seychelles.
International students, most of whom are following graduate and post-doctorate studies, have worked on programmes such as Seychelles warbler research through Nature Seychelles' affiliation with various universities in Europe. Volunteers have also come to work on the reef rescue project, which is helping to restore corals bleached by warming seas around Cousin Island Special Reserve.
"On the coral project, we would prefer to have locals working along staff and scientific divers, as its about transfer of skills and its crucial to get local people involved," said Shah.
Other opportunities available include internships at the organization doing practical work out in the field. There was a light moment when Shah told the students that they would have to leave the comfort of Mahe "to work in far flung locations".
Internships have been an ongoing programme within the organization with students from the NIE, Visual Arts and recently UNISEY gaining experience here. Students from the Maritime Training College have also had internships on Cousin Island Special Reserve.
A tour of the Heritage Garden where young people like themselves are being taught to propagate not just food but also Creole culture was undertaken next. It ended at the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, a man-made urban wetland, which is continuously being improved and where a lot of experience on managing wetlands can be gained.
Mr. Dogley thanked Nature Seychelles for taking the time to interact with the students, and for allowing them to see some of the things they have learnt in theory in the class.