“To win the marketplace, you must first win the workplace.” 
-Doug Conant

As the Seychelles National Parks Authority finalizes its final touches before assuming its financial autonomy status in 2019, one thing remains clear; its human capital base is its greatest asset and an efficient and motivated one is what it requires to ride the challenging waves it will face at the start of its new journey.

This sentiment echoed loudly at its Staff Award ceremony which took place on 20th December 2018 alongside its annual first time this year Staff Conference. The event kicked off with a welcoming address by SNPA’s CEO, Selby Remy followed by a motivational speech by Mr Robert Ah-Weng which then opened the floor for a ‘work’ session where SNPA staff engaged in group discussions over the future of the Authority, operational issues, and human resource issues amongst many other topics. Such an exercise gave the employees a chance to voice their opinions and ideas to their colleagues on a platform which stimulated further debate.

The ‘Best overall’ award was awarded to Gilberte Gendron, a Senior Research Officer from the Research Section, who also picked up the ‘Best performer’ award in her section and the ‘Special Recognition’ award. The Research Section which is made up of 5 staff members and is responsible for conducting and monitoring research projects, gathering and managing research data, assisting with education and awareness and providing technical assistance to stakeholders to name a few. Its director, James Mougal, won the award for Leadership.

Anto Suzette from Marine Operations took home the ‘Hero of the Year’ award following several successful rescue attempts in the Curieuse waters over the course of the year as well as providing assistance in search missions and boats in distress. He was also awarded the ‘Promoter of SNPA’ image award. Suzette is the park manager for the Curieuse Marine Park and has been in the post for the past four years. He was awarded the ‘Hero’ title due to

The Best Team award went to the Forestry Timber Merchant Unit, for working well together, maintaining a good team spirit and communication and also for achieving the expected output in 2018.

A Best Performer award was allocated to a staff member from each section and they were, Maggie Dugasse from Marine Operations, Sabrina Florentine and Frankley Capricieuse from Forestry, Mavis d’Offay from Finance Section and Percy Jacques from Human Resource and Administration.

The Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Mr Wallace Cosgrow had a few words of encouragement for SNPA and its staff as take the bold step into financial autonomy as well as extending festive wishes for the holiday season. SNPA’s Chairperson, Helena Sims, also addressed the crowd, many of whom are her former peers, expressing her delight at being the chair of the SNPA Board and also reminding the staff that hard work lies ahead as the authority adapts to its new financial status.

SNPA employs over 80 staff across five different sections. The Award Scheme permits the Authority to reward staff that has performed well over the year, with the intention of motivating everyone, with the end result of improving productivity in the workplace. The Award is also a way for management to thank the staff after a year of hard work.

 

 

The 2018 edition of the Raft Race for Charity event organised by the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) in collaboration with Global Vision International (GVI) and the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) drew an impressive crowd on Saturday 24th November, on the Cap Ternay beach.  19 teams from different organisations and some comprising of friends and family came together in a battle of paddles to raise funds for the President’s Village. The 2018 edition was organised for the first time as part of the STB’s Ocean’s Festival activities and had the highest number of rafts (19) compete since the annual event started 7 years ago.

Participants had to paddle a total of 1.6km from the Cap Ternay beach and back on rafts made from environmentally-friendly and reusable materials. Cap Ternay is part of the Baie Ternay Marine Park, a national park which falls under the jurisdiction of the SNPA. Baie Ternay Marine Park is treasured for its astounding vistas, with pristine seashore fringed by calm turquoise shallows and abundant marine life.

All of the first three rafts to cross the finishing line on Saturday broke the 2017 record time of 34 minutes, a title won by the Ephelia Constance resort in last year’s edition. The Skychef team has set a new challenging record of 27.57 minutes for future races to attempt to break. Second to cross the line was the Ephelia team at 29.53 minutes and in third place was the Cable & Wireless team at 30.27 minutes.

Aside from the first three winners, prizes donated by the SNPA, STB and Skychef were always awarded to the team with the most innovative raft (Cable & Wireless), best costume (Ephelia Security team) and the team which raised the most funds (Island Boys).

An SNPA initiative to help change the fate of sea turtles

For over a year now, the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA), in joint collaboration with Six Senses Zil Pasyon, and Jeanne Mortimer who is Seychelles’ renowned turtle expert have been conducting a turtle tagging project within the Ile Cocos Marine Park. The project which is being funded by the Systematic Adaptive Management (SAM) aims to determine the size of the turtle population within the area, but as we find out, there’s much more to a tagging turtle project than just tagging turtles.

Many people consider sea turtles as majestic creatures. Human attachment to them range from emotional reasons to scientific and right down fascination – and for good reason. Sea turtles live up to 60 years and by the time we find a female turtle struggle step after step up a beach to dig a nest to lay her eggs, she would have, by that time survived at least 25 to 40 years in the water which is the time it takes for her to reach sexual maturity. The choice of beach, and this is one of the fascinating facts about sea turtles, is usually in the same area where that turtle herself hatched. In other words, turtles come back home to have their babies.

On the other side of the human attachment coin is human activities which have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient creatures who have played an important role in the balance of marine life for over 100 million years. Today, nearly all species of sea turtles are classified as endangered as humans keep slaughtering them for their eggs, meat, skin and shells. Recent social media posts here in Seychelles have confirmed that the sea turtle population continue to suffer from poaching. The sea turtle’ struggle doesn’t end there. Heart breaking images of the content of dead turtles caught in fishing nests show that plastic pollution is fast contributing to the destruction of their habitat, which ultimately has no happy ending for them. If we add climate change to the list we find beaches which are being eroded away and altering sand temperatures, all of which narrows down the chance of survival for the sea turtle in search of a safe place which feels like home for her to lay her eggs.

In a meeting with boat operators prior to the start of this turtle tagging project, concerns were raised over a lack of turtle sighting within the Ile Cocos Marine Park, something which tourists anticipate. Cliff Emille of the SNPA who is responsible for the park felt inspired to get to the bottom of the concern to find out more about the turtle population and its movement within the area. He teamed up with Anna Zora who is the Sustainability Manager on Six Senses Zil Pasyon to collect data to get a clearer idea on the situation both from ground and in water. Turtle tagging for Cliff means getting into the water and diving to get the turtle. The tagging process also includes taking measurements such as weight and length and also noting injuries (if any), capture method, feeding behavior, exact location the turtle is captured and what species it is. So far 25 turtles have been tagged, all of them hawksbill. Only juvenile turtles are targeted in water since mature ones are tagged on land.

On land on Felicité, the turtles get to meet Anna, a marine biologist who has been responsible for the resort’s environmental projects for three years now.  Since the project started a year ago, Anna has spotted 51 nesting turtles since the start of the project and has tagged 13 of them, 12 of which are hawkbills and 1 green turtle. In addition to the tags, she also takes photo identification of them since the scale on the face of each turtle is unique, more or less like a human thumb print. Anna tells us that prior to this project, there had been no turtle monitoring or tagging on Felicité.

This has been confirmed by Jeanne Mortimer who heads the Turtle Action Group Seychelles. Jeanne has been involved with turtle projects in Seychelles since 1981 and according to her statistics, there has been more than 20 projects since the late 1960’s which have focused on turtle conservation and collecting data on these ancient mariners.  As Jeanne points out, such projects go beyond data collection and also ticks important boxes such as community involvement and mobilization and defacto patrol.  Increased numbers in turtle sighting in protected areas such as Aldabra, Cousin and Aride, to name a few, prove that these projects have positive effects on turtle conservation.

The SNPA’s primary mandate is to protect and manage the ecosystems and biodiversity within the 8 national parks it manages in the Inner Islands. Sea turtles play an important role in marine ecosystems and as such, their conservation falls within the SNPA’ s mandate. Aside from their role in marine ecosytems, sea turtles are also an important element in Seychelles’ tourism industry, which is the country’s number one economic pillar. Tourists come to Seychelles with high hopes of spotting sea turtles in their snorkeling excursions or better still, witnessing the laborious process of a nesting turtle on a beautiful beach. With the SNPA’s move to financial autonomy in 2019, improving the marine parks’ services to the visitor is of crucial importance and part of that is ensuring a healthy population of sea turtles. SNPA is also currently undertaking other turtle tagging projects within the Curieuse Marine Park and the St Anne Marine Park.

Entries are now open for an annual charity raft race event that will this year form part of the Seychelles Ocean Festival.

The Cap Ternay Raft Race for Charity, organised jointly by the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) and Global Vision International (GVI), is set for its seventh edition on Saturday, 24th November 2018, and will once again roll several good causes into a day of fun and creativity in the Baie Ternay Marine Park.

Individuals and organisations alike are being invited to compete in the race, in which teams of four build rafts from recycled materials and then race them from the beach at Cap Ternay out to a buoy 800 metres from shore.  

In addition to highlighting the importance of marine protected areas and the threats they face from pollution and plastic waste, the event also raises funds for the President’s Village orphanage in nearby Port Glaud.

For the first time, the event will form part of the Seychelles Ocean Festival, previously known as SUBIOS, SNPA Chief Executive Officer Selby Remy said.

“We’re delighted that our strong partnership with GVI is now being extended to the Seychelles Ocean Festival in collaboration with the Seychelles Tourism Board,” Mr Remy said. “Achieving a higher profile for the race will increase awareness about our parks both locally and abroad while boosting the event’s fund-raising capacity.” 

Last year, the Constance Ephelia team won the race, with SNPA’s own team taking second prize. Each team is required to make a cash contribution of R400 per raft which goes toward a fund for the President’s Village.

The rafts can be made from re-usable items, but degradable materials such as polystyrene that could disintegrate while in the ocean are prohibited, resulting in disqualification. Teams must cross the finish line with a complete raft and all four team members, using paddles.

The Seychelles Ocean Festival will be held from the 23rd-25th November, 2018. Registration for the Cap Ternay Raft Race for Charity closes on the 17th November, 2018 and prospective participants should contact 2813979 or 2813992 to register.

 

Register for the Cap Ternay Raft Race for Charity

  • Teams must comprise of 4 members – no more, no less.
  • Cash Contribution per Team: SCR400
  • Deadline for registration: 17th November 2018
  • Race Date: 24th November 2018
  • Meeting Point & Time: Cap Ternay at 13:00
  • Race Commences: 15:00
  • Contact Info: 2813979 or 2813992 | E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Seychelles National Parks Authority seeks nation-wide participation for its new marketing and communications plan.

 

A national study is underway in a bid to help authorities better understand the potential of the country’s national parks, along with their future management and promotion.

The Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is launching several online surveys for different target groups, as well as specialised focus groups for tourism operators on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue over the course of this month.

The study will engage SNPA’s partners, stakeholders and the public in general to provide feedback on how it can improve the marketing and communication activities for its national parks. This was one of several objectives identified in the SNPA’s Strategic Plan approved last year by Cabinet, paving the way for SNPA to become a financially autonomous institution.

This plan highlights the need for the organisation to improve its marketing and communication – both to improve the tourism products offered to tourists and tourism operators, as well as keep Seychellois informed of progress in their National Parks.

The Government of Seychelles in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility (GOS-UNDP-GEF) are supporting the SNPA to develop and implement its marketing and communication plan as part of a wider Protected Areas Finance Project.Financial autonomy for the SNPA means both new opportunities and new risks, according to SNPA chief executive officer Selby Remy.

“We have to move toward the mindset of operating like a business, but instead of delivering profits with the revenue that we generate, we need to deliver better services, better research and more conservation work,” Mr Remy said. “Like any business, we need to orient ourselves in the direction of the customer and the community in order for the parks to sustain themselves, and the study we are carrying out will help us do that.”

 

The on-line survey links:

Resident Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SNPAResidents

National Operators: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NationalOperators

Overseas Operators: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/OverseasOperators

Helena was greatly honoured when asked to assume the mantle of Chairperson for National Parks in February 2018 and her vast experience to date ensures that the reigns of this vital authority are in safe hands. Helena plans to use her experience to provide a fresh outlook on the future of the Authority as it transitions to financial autonomy status in the coming year. She believes in a bottom up approach when it comes to conservation as well as hands on management. 

Helena Participating in Ste Anne Marine Park Annual Kayak Race

She is adamant that empowering employees to feel competent, capable and successful is key because when employees feel empowered they best serve your organisation. Likewise, she believes that the people of Seychelles need to feel ownership of their land and ocean, to understand that the responsibility of respecting and conserving our environment (our bread and butter) relies not only on entities that manage protected areas, but also on all people of the country who depend on them and reap their benefits daily. This is where S.N.P.A`S. role in education and awareness on the role of biodiversity conservation is also imperative. Improving on S.N.P.A`s community involvement is vital to move forward. Helena wants to work with communities, residents and business owners who live or work within the National Parks. Consultation with everyone is important, especially when implementing new strategies. Helena feels tasked and honoured to manage these areas for and on behalf of the people of Seychelles.

Representing Seychelles in International conferences

With the transition to autonomy, the S.N.P.A. has a great opportunity to improve its financial outlook and strategies to best serve the people of Seychelles, visitors of marine and terrestrial National Parks and its employees. Careful thought needs to be put into updating the legislation that defines the mandate of the Authority (SNPA Order) as it changes its status, as well as developing sound business strategies for the financial sustainability of the organisation. The transition is expected to be a challenge for the organisation but the team is gearing up to face it head on, for the first time in Seychelles’ history, a woman at the helm.

Helena lives comfortably with her decision to follow her dreams into shaping the environment of Seychelles. Yet there is still more to learn about her.

She is also a businesswomen with a small portfolio of rental properties and she lives perched amongst the lush vegetation of La Misere, adjacent to the buffer zone of the Morne Seychellois National Park. She works tirelessly with the Autism Society in Seychelles, supporting and promoting this special gift that challenges her own nine year old son.

Helena feels blessed to have been raised and to be living and working in such a beautiful country. Her heart beats to the Seychelles rhythm, she is truly an island girl by nature and profession.

 

 Unveiling Information board with Minister for Environment Energy and Climate Change

One of the mandates of the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) is to implement sustainable forestry practices. The authority is responsible for managing forest resources including timber in and outside of the national parks and has established a number of timber plantations. It sells forest products such as bamboo, latanier leaves and casuarina poles to the public but timber is only sold to licensed merchants.

To prevent illegal harvesting of timber, forestry staff conduct regular surveillance on week days and during weekends. On the weekend of 25th August 2018, staff on patrol managed to intercept such illegal act. The incident occurred at ‘Dan Bore’, Anse Boileau just before 1pm. In all, the illegal operators managed to transport 31 pieces of ‘Santol’ planks to a road, ready to be loaded onto a truck and transported away. ‘Santol’ timber sells for R701/ m3. The timber together with a chainsaw and a few other personal belongings of the perpetrators were seized by the police and SNPA.

The confiscated timber

If it was not for SNPA’s organized operations, it was most likely that the country would have lost significant revenue due to such unscrupulous individuals. Besides the loss of revenue, the damage caused by the illegal harvesters to the watershed will surely impact on the local farming community that obtain their water upstream. Most often the tree illegally harvested are those that have been left by the authority because of its proximity to a water source. Such trees tend to grow very fast and those unscrupulous individuals are tempted by them. We are currently in the dry season and the cutting down of trees near streams directly affects the amount of water.

Cut down 'santol' trees littering the area

The public is being reminded that it is an offence to harvest timber on government land without a valid permit. Anyone caught in such illegal activity will be prosecuted and may have to pay at least thrice the price of trees fell. The public is being encouraged to contact SNPA on, 4225114 or 2818800; Greenline on 2722111 to report on illegal harvesting of timber or other forest product.

Trees are extremely important to our country not just for their monetary value but likewise for the ecosystem services that they provide such as provision of food, fresh water, climate regulation and recreational spaces.

SNPA’s marine parks provide refuge to endangered sea turtles. The beaches in the Curieuse and Ste Anne Marine Parks are important turtle nesting grounds. The other parks being protected areas guarded by park rangers protect the turtles from poachers. The SNPA currently has turtle monitoring programs in 3 out of the 5 parks it manages and that consist of in water tagging and turtle nest monitoring. Being an important player in turtle conservation, SNPA is executive member in Local NGO Sea Turtle Friends Seychelles. Last Saturday 11th August, Staff from the Authority joined some 200 participants to march the streets of the country’s second largest island, Praslin, to raise awareness on Sea Turtles. The team consisted of staff from Mahe, Praslin, La Digue and Curieuse.

Minister and PS of Environment leading the Sea Turtle march

Josianna Rose, officer in charge of the Veuve Reserve on La Digue, participated with students from her environment club, ‘Friends of Flycatcher’. They put up an amazing display filled with sea turtle shaped placards containing interesting messages about sea turtles. The group was the only one from La Digue and their presence was extremely essential as this year’s festival was targeting the inner islands. At 9.30 am, the Minister for Environment, Mr Wallace Cosgrow officially launched the march and together with PS for Environment Mr Decomarmond participated in the one hour walk to the Baie Ste Anne District Administration Office. The march concluded with presentations by the different schools and environment groups. With the success of its first festival on Praslin, Sea Turtle Friends Seychelles is contemplating taking the festival to La Digue next year.

 

SNPA staff with Friends of Flycatcher Environment Club after the march

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