The idea of building a resort in this quiet location of the island came about long after the site was declared a protected RAMSAR area. As the people in the community knew very little about the ecological and physical value of the ecosystem, the investors initially felt that there were absolutely no barriers to setting up such a profitable business for the country. Work included clearing off some mangroves to create space for a concrete access bridge to the hotel. In that same year, 2009, the Seychelles had just launched its first series of Mangroves For the Future (MFF) projects including one named ‘Mangroves are a Must…!’ and advocating for wetlands conservation in communities.
Notwithstanding the passive knowledge of mangroves importance, the community members stood up to react to the perceived negative impact the development might bring to their pristine environment. S4S also took the lead through another MFF small grant facility project to improve the residents’ understanding and appreciation of their natural and cultural heritage, enabling their active participation in planning for and managing their environment, while exploring ways of generating sustainable livelihoods from the wetland and other natural and cultural features. This was done in a progressive consultative process with all stakeholders on board in an organised structure where participants willingly discussed potentials for collaboration with the investors and government partners.
The project actions gave a voice to the residents to react positively and empowered them to take collective actions that will help them benefit from the development in their community as well as to contribute to the sustainable development and conservation of their newly found treasures; features with both ecological and cultural heritage in the community.
This eventually gave rise to a well structured community-based organisation opening doors for people to learn and grow in an environment that is healthy, productive with pro-active social and business prospectives. The Port Glaud people are actively participating in the conservation of their coastal environment with increased sense of ownership, while the Government authorities and the neutral NGO continuously facilitate the transition in bridging the communication gap between the concerned parties.
Constance Ephelia resort opens its doors to Port Glaud resid ... , Ephelia Resort, Port Launay Mahe Seychelles © Michele Martin, 2013