The challenges for the Seychelles

The Republic of Seychelles' 115 idyllic-looking islands include the planet’s oldest. Their unique biodiversity boasts unique plant and animal species, including the spectacular Coco de Mer, which produces the largest seed in the world.

But tourist brochure images of pristine island paradises often belie the challenges to their people, environments and economies. The Seychelles is coming up against the following problems:

  • Climate change
    As the climate changes and sea levels rise, the archipelgo's low-lying coral islands offer nowhere for plants and animals to go - either laterally or vertically.
  • Habitat loss
    A growing population and tourism industry are increasing pressure for land and putting a strain on forests in particular.
  • Invasive species
    Rats and cats prey on an already small population of native animals and the remaining forests on the main islands are under threat from introduced plants and invasive climbers.

Restoring the Seychelles islands' ecosystems

Seychelles has a renowned reputation for restoration ecology. Growing public awareness of environmental issues, and the focus of tourism on pristine environments over the past 40 years, has shifted land use away from plantation agriculture to tourism-related conservation and restoration.

Back in 2000 the Eden Project started working with the Seychelles government and other conservation bodies on projects that not only help restore the islands ecologically, but also support the creation of sustainable livelihoods for the archipelago.

  • Protecting the Coco de Mer
    A collaboration between the Seychelles, Eden and the UK’s University of Reading enabled a Seychelles national to pursue a doctorate on the population management of the Coco de Mer – a flagship palm species of economic importance.
  • Boosting native flora
    Funded by the UK government’s Darwin Initiative, Eden and the Seychelles government developed propagation and establishment protocols for over half of the islands’ endemic flora. The island has now established its own Plant Conservation Action Group.
  • Raising funds for rare plants
    Eden's funding of a doctorate with the University of Reading on the conservation of plant species led to the first Seychelles’ plant species recovery plan for the critically endangered Impatiens gordonii. We have also bred a beautiful hybrid from Eden this 'Busy Lizzie', profits from the sale of which are going towards conservation in the Seychelles.
  • Increasing public awareness
    Our Tropical Islands exhibit in the Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project, Cornwall, highlight the importance of island conservation and restoration. As have our show gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show. We have also displayed artwork on plant evolution by Angela Easterling, the culmination of over five years work with Eden and the Seychelles.

With thanks to Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury for the use of the photo.