Plans are underway in Seychelles to enhance its marine park by demarcating a new underwater trail along the Port Launay reef in the west of the main island of Mahe.
The new trail will provide visitors with an improved snorkeling experience while also limiting snorkeling activities to particular areas of the reef. The Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment is in the process of developing a strategy on the best way to set up a trail.
According to Gilberte Gendron, a consultant on the project, the goal is to “develop a sustainable underwater trail that minimizes human disturbance and impact on marine ecosystems and provide opportunities to teach visitors and public about the marine ecosystem and natural resources.”
But what is an underwater trail?
“It is a defined circuit which one can do by snorkeling to observe the species present. The iconic and interesting species will be present on a map with photos so that the snorkeler can beforehand know what to look out for, the possibility of having a demarcation in the area of interest along the trail,” explained Gendron.
The demarcation of the new trail falls within a new project being funded by the Global Environment Facility and called “A Ridge to Reef Approach for the Integrated Management of Marine, Coastal and Terrestrial Ecosystems in the Seychelles.”
The underwater trail along the Port Launay reef will ultimately provide visitors with an enhanced snorkeling experience while also limiting snorkeling activities to particular areas of the reef. (Save our Seas Foundation) Photo License: All Rights Reserved
The project objective is to undertake a comprehensive Ridge to Reef (R2R) approach that addresses the ‘whole island’ priorities of improved management and conservation of upland forest and agricultural ecosystems, as well as coastal and marine ecosystems in the Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.
This will produce global benefits in terms of conservation of globally significant biodiversity and the effective management of large marine ecosystems and arrest and reverse ecosystem degradation.
This demarcation of the new underwater trail will address the requirements of one component of the project which is an expansion of marine and terrestrial protected areas of Seychelles’ Inner Islands, with the outcome of improved management of existing marine protected areas, namely Port Launay, Baie Ternay and Curieuse national parks managed by the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA).
Joanna Prosper, the GOS-GEF-UNDP Ridge to Reef Project Manager, added: “the underwater trail along the Port Launay reef will ultimately provide visitors with an enhanced snorkeling experience while also limiting snorkeling activities to particular areas of the reef.” The project which will commence later in July after the strategy is developed, is also expected to promote the national marine parks as sites for responsible nature tourism.
Gendron is also expected to have consultations whereby people have to answer a questionnaire find on this link https://forms.gle/8iSjS6RsNAewLzqY7. to compile information on the expectations of the trail including information on how it will be used and the quality of user experience.