Seychelles Travel Guide

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Environment & Conservation

The Seychelles were the first country in the world to include conservation efforts in their constitution and, with around 60% of the Seychelles land mass being protected, they have the highest proportion of protected space in the world.

Two different sites in the Seychelles have been entered into the UNESCO World Heritage: the Vallée de Mai on Praslin and the Aldabra Atoll, while the country's own protection efforts cover a total of twenty distinct areas that require special care. All of the country's rare plant and animal species also fall under this same protection. The fact that such measures are required is due, in part, to the history of the archipelago. The first settlers were not aware of the importance of maintaining the natural environment of the islands if you want to inhabit the islands permanently, nor were they particularly interested in the latter at the time; as soon as an island was no longer useful, they simply would find a different island. Meanwhile, the native animals were killed and large sections of forest were cut down.


In the 1960s, people finally woke up to this reality when the British Government attempted to gain clearance to build a military base on the Aldabra Atoll. Environmental activists and scientists were able to defeat this project, contributing to a wider policy of sustainability. Since then, individual islands we declared protected domains, former coconut plantations were dismantled, and native flora was planted in their place in the 1970s. Private investors who owned other Seychelles islands followed this good example, and the Seychellois realised that this was not only good for themselves and for the environment, but also for the most important economic factor in the country, tourism.

Image: The Vallée de Mai is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site

The state of the country's reefs raises its own concerns, as recent research suggests that corals struggle to tolerate water temperatures above 29 °C (84 °F). Back in 1998, significantly higher levels were measured, and there was damage to some of the Indian Ocean's coral reefs as a result. Some spots even saw the introduction of artificial reefs to try to offset the problems.

As a tourist, it goes without saying that the nature should be respected. Damaging coral and collecting shells should both be avoided, as should leaving your waste behind. The fact that many of the Seychelles' more-protected regions are only accessible via guided excursions, with respective landing and entrance fees, helps to reinforce the commitment of many visitors not to damage these natural treasures.