A vast variety of trash washes up on the otherwise pristine beaches of Cousin Island
In a recent study by conservation scientists from BirdLife International, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CEFE), findings ranked Seychelles among the five small island states that led in conservation of threatened species worldwide. A great triumph for the country.
Seychelles, Mauritius, Fiji, Cook Islands and Tonga were named top leaders in conservation owing to efforts such as ecosystem restoration, management of protected areas, invasive species eradication and bio-security. Seychelles was further labelled the most conservation minded country for the reason that 52 percent of its 115 islands are protected by law as nature reserves. But could Seychelles be greener?
A plastic bottle floating in the nature reserve in Roche Caiman
Over the years, Nature Seychelles’ conservation efforts including habitat restoration, research, monitoring and translocations have saved most of the birds referred to in the study including the Seychelles warbler and the magpie robin from extinction. As many of our supporters all over Seychelles and the world said – “Well done Nature Seychelles”.
Nature Seychelles, the BirdLife partner in Seychelles and a member of the IUCN also manages Cousin Island Special Reserve, also protected under Seychelles law as a nature reserve. However, staff and volunteers have an additional menace to keep in check on Cousin. Trash.
Styrofoam take away are commonly used in Seychelles and just as commonly ound lying on the ground
“Every evening after the high tide, there are new things that wash up on the beach,” explains April Burt, Nature Seychelles Conservation Manager. “Volunteers collect a bag full of rubbish that wash up on the beach each day. Mostly we collect flip-flops and plastic bottles but yesterday we had a fish aggregation device wash up. We have even had things like old fridges and buoys wash up on the beach.”
Granted, ocean trash may wash up from another part of the world, but the culture of littering is evident at The Sanctuary in Roche Caiman. Nature Seychelles staff regularly collect Styrofoam takeaway boxes, plastic bottles, beer cans and a host of litter that has either blown in, floated onto the nature reserve or have been dropped on the public road beside the reserve.
“Plastic is no longer fantastic. It’s so ubiquitous it has entered every aspect of our lives and we discard plastic things daily,” says Dr Nirmal Jivan Shah, Nature Seychelles’ CEO. “Where do all these go? In landfills but also in the natural environment as litter.”
Landfills are not an environmentally friendly solution to garbage disposal
The world over, plastic is the main culprit as litter, especially as ocean trash, but by no means the only pollutant. According to a recent study by scientists from the non-profit advocacy group 5 Greys published in PLOS ONE, the statistic are staggering. There is an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean. Of this 269,000 tons float on the surface and 4 billion plastic microfibers per square kilometre litter the deep sea. The effects on the environment, wildlife and humans are still being studied, but the outcomes cannot be good.
Nature Seychelles hopes to launch a ‘Greener Seychelles’ campaign in the coming weeks to tackle the culture of littering. Nature Seychelles also recently launched an organic network in Seychelles for healthier consumption and indeed, for a healthier environment in a bid to reduce, if not do away with the harmful chemicals used in farming that pollute the soil, air and water sources.