Seychelles Natural Heritage
Our environment, our people and the diversity of cultures forms part of the country’s national heritage. Preservation of the natural heritage is the responsibility of the Ministry of Community Development, Social Affairs and Sports
Seychelles has two UNESCO world heritage sites; Aldabra and Vallee de Mai
The Aldabra Atoll is an outstanding example of a raised coral atoll. Due to its remoteness and inaccessibility, the atoll has remained largely untouched by humans for the majority of its existence. Aldabra is the largest raised coral atoll in the world, and contains one of the most important natural habitats for studying evolutionary and ecological processes. It is home to the largest giant tortoise population in the world. The richness and diversity of the ocean and landscapes result in an array of colours and formations that contribute to the atoll’s scenic and aesthetic appeal.
The WHC includes the four main islands which form the atoll plus numerous islets and the surrounding marine area. It is sufficiently large to support all ongoing biological and ecological processes essential for ensuring continued evolution in the atoll. The remoteness and inaccessibility of the atoll limit extensive human interference which could otherwise jeopardize ongoing processes. As such, Aldabra displays an almost intact ecosystem, sustaining naturally viable populations of all key species.
The property is legally protected under national legislation and is managed by a public trust, the Seychelles Islands Foundation, with daily operations guided by a management plan. Boundaries are ecologically viable, particularly with the extension of the seaward boundary in 2016/17 which provides additional protection to the marine fauna. While the remoteness of the property has limited human interference, thus contributing for the protection of the biological and ecological processes, it also poses tremendous logistical challenges. Tourism is limited and carefully controlled. Whilst the property displays an almost intact ecosystem, protection and management need to address the constant threats posed by invasive alien species, climate change and oil spills, particularly in the event that oil exploration increases in the wider region
For more information, visit http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/185
Vallee de Mai
Located on the granitic island of Praslin, the Vallée de Mai is a 19.5 ha area of palm forest which remains largely unchanged since prehistoric times. Dominating the landscape is a population of endemic coco-de-mer, a flagship species of global significance as the bearer of the largest seed in the plant kingdom. The forest is also home to five other endemic palms and many endemic fauna species. The property is a scenically attractive area with a distinctive natural beauty.
The ecological integrity of the Vallée de Mai is high, but the 19.5 ha that constitutes the property’s size is relatively small and its present status is due to some replanting of coco-de-mer undertaken in the past. The property is embedded within the Praslin National Park (300 ha) which provides a sufficiently large area to ensure the natural functioning of the forest ecosystem.
The property is legally protected under national legislation and is managed by a public trust, the Seychelles Islands Foundation. Fire is considered the most significant threat to the property, and fire response and contingency plans are essential. Tourism, as managed by the public trust, makes a significant financial contribution to the protection and management of the property and also pays for the management of Aldabra through a cross-financing scheme. The overexploitation of coco-de-mer can exhaust natural recruitment, and illegal removal of the seeds is a serious problem that affects future regeneration; thus, a key management priority is to maintain the palm forest by direct human manipulation with the collection and planting of the seeds before they are stolen and sold. Effective measures to mitigate threats to endemic fauna and flora from invasive species, pests and diseases are also essential.
For more information, go to http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/261