Puppet show on conservation of wetlands , WCS festival, Seychelles © MFF Seychelles, 2010
The overall objectives of this Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles (WCS) project were to overcome negative or indifferent attitudes to wetlands and mangroves, and to bring about a change in societal priorities in the Seychelles.
As many Seychellois are largely unaware of their values and services, wetlands continue to be lost and degraded, destroying important wildlife habitats and making the archipelago increasingly vulnerable to the extreme weather events induced by climate change. This project sought to launch a vigorous long-term campaign of public sensitisation aimed at encouraging the whole community to take action to conserve wetlands.
Members of six coastal communities, the private sector, and WCS members (224 people) and leaders (10 people).
The project involved WCS leaders and members, schools, the wider community, media outlets and national stakeholders in government and the conservation field, helping to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands and generating information on mangrove planting and restoration.
A survey that assessed community appreciation of coastal resources in the six target communities found that 96% of respondents regarded wetlands as valuable assets. The survey prompted community members to look at the benefits from healthy wetlands, and encouraged activities to protect wetlands in their vicinity. A partnership between government and stakeholders was established, and even after the project ended activities in wetland protection and restoration continued.
The Mangrove Teams drew praise from key stakeholders such as the Department of the Environment, as well as certain communities which have now registered as organizations in their own right and are applying for funding to expand their efforts.
Two of the Mangrove Teams implemented only part of their action plan because of ill health and other commitments. The WCS coordinator also occasionally found it hard to monitor every ongoing project.
Media coverage of the project was excellent. The Nation newspaper ran six articles, five of which mentioned MFF. A 15-minute radio programme and many shorter updates were broadcast on project activities, as well as a 20-minute television report and shorter updates of about seven minutes each.
The project also produced posters detailing community survey results, an annual 24-page magazine for children, and a 65-page book, A Wetlands and Coastal Activities Guide.
More than 90% of the WCS leadership is female; about 70% of its membership are women.
This was a project focal area and a motivating force for mangrove rehabilitation. Training was given to WCS members in climate change, its potential impacts on islands and coastal communities, and other relevant concerns. The training included film shows, group work, art and drama. These activities were later rolled out to schools.
Given its scale, this project would have benefited from a dedicated project manager. Outputs were best achieved by training all participants in implementing and managing action plans, writing reports and other management tasks. Decentralizing implementation also worked well.
Mahé and Praslin islands, Seychelles
1st Jul 2009 to 28th Feb 2011
Almost all Seychelles conservation organizations, as well as government ministries, contributed to making the project a success.
Wildlife Clubs of the Seychelles (WCS),
Tel: +248 2719047
“It is good to see the young people taking interest. I have never seen it before. I will help them by looking after the plants they planted here.”
— MRS VERLAQUES
A COASTAL VILLAGER