After years of restoration works at the former 'wasteland' Nature Seychelles has now added another feather on her cap. The former 'wasteland' is now The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman. A wetland of international repute.

[ROCHE CAIMAN 20/05/2008] Amidst pomp, colour and glamour, the much awaited launching of the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman was unveiled in style in mid April. The inauguration of the site to the public which was presided over by Environment minister Joel Morgan among other dignitaries marked the end of a long chapter of restoration works and the beginning of a new chapter for the wetland and the entire environmental field in Seychelles. Since its launch the Sanctuary has become a popular destination spot.

Unknown to many however is that the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, is a showcase of international partnerships benefiting local people. This facet was revealed by both Minister Morgan and the CEO of Nature Seychelles Nirmal Shah in their speeches during the opening.

The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman is indeed a tale full of anecdotes, with earthmovers sinking, fences being stolen and peccadillo misadventures. However the sterling commitment and intense international lobbying by Nature Seychelles CEO Nirmal Shah and Projects Coordinator Kerstin Henri are the result as to why the former wasteland has today become a real stunning wetland with complete adherence to world standards.

As he launched the wetland Minister Morgan remarked:

“Today we can see that our expectations have all been fulfilled. From a wasteland into a real wetland. The trust that the government had in Nature Seychelles has not been broken. With its collaboration with my ministry, the local community and its international partners Nature Seychelles has made this sanctuary into what it is today. It is a haven for resident and migrating birds including rare sightings.”

The minister didn’t stop there. He went on to pay glowing tribute to Nature Seychelles for harnessing international support for local benefit:

“This wetland fruition is testimony of the government’s real efforts in partnering with civil society. We are very keen to involve NGOs and others in environmental protection and sustainable development in general. But we need serious partners – partners like Nature Seychelles who are willing to mobilize resources, pull out all stops and roll out results for the benefit of all Seychellois.”

The sheer amount of international support and crossSeychelles Environment Minister Joel Morgan officially inaugurating the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman border appeals that Nature Seychelles managed to convince to join in the project did not come easy.

“The wetland is very important to both the Seychellois and the international community and there was no way we were going to let them down. We had to see this sanctuary becoming a success. It was difficult to convince donors to partner with us but we never gave up. The noble ideals of conservation required that we lobby intensely across the globe to secure support for the wetland.” Kerstin Henri reveals.

The Sanctuary at Roche Caiman is now fully restored and is ready to provide a convenient, close-to-town environmental resource for the people of Victoria and visiting nature enthusiasts.

“Seychelles is part and parcel of the world community of nations. As such we had to burn the midnight oil to ensure we secure international support for the Wetland. It wasn’t easy and I can remember the long lonely nights we struggled to put proposals together and severe negotiations to bring international donors on board. Last Saturday proved that we marshalled world support for local benefit.” Mr Shah recalls.

Later in an interview with both the leading US TV network, National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) Mr Shah remarked: “Today, under extensive restoration by Nature Seychelles, the sanctuary has been turned to an important outdoor classroom for school groups, a resource centre for Wildlife Clubs activities as well as an attractive site for tourists and other visitors. It offers an opportunity for exciting discoveries and provides its visitors with first hand experiences of living things in a wetland. Environmental learning is fun and that’s what we are advocating. Another reason for ‘Pour lan mour Sesel’.[ENDS]

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