UNDP and GEF support Seychelles’ first-ever publication on controlling invasive species

May 11, 2016

Research shows that over the past few hundred years, species loss has increased by more than 1,000 percent due to invasive species displacing native ones. Photo: UNDP/GEF

With around 70 percent of Seychelles’ gross domestic product (GDP) and more than 90 percent of exports dependent on natural ecosystem services, primarily fishing and tourism, the island country is taking steps to protect its biodiversity from invasive alien species (IAS).

Through a USD 2 million biosecurity project, the Seychelles government together with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) have documented the extent of the threat of invasive species as well as control and eradication measures in the country’s first-ever book on IAS, Invasive Alien Species in Seychelles. Why and how to eliminate them? Identification and management of priority species.

Authored by leading environment specialists Dr Gerard Rocamora and Dr Elvina Henriette and published in collaboration with the Island Biodiversity and Conservation Centre at the University of Seychelles, the book is a comprehensive resource for those working on and interested in invasive species management including scientists, conservation and biosecurity practitioners, academics, students, among others.

Plants, animals and diseases are considered invasive when they travel beyond their natural habitat, and have negative impacts in their new home through infestation.

Research shows that over the past few hundred years, species loss has increased by more than 1,000 percent due to invasive species displacing native ones. They are the second most important threat to the biodiversity of the planet after habitat destruction.

“Increasing travel through trade and tourism in Seychelles has the associated risk of increasing rates of intentional and unintentional introduction of IAS outside their natural habitat,” says Principal Authorized Officer of Seychelles Biosecurity Services Randy Stravens.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) defines biosecurity as a strategic and integrated approach that encompasses the policy and regulatory frameworks (including instruments and activities) that analyse and manage risks in the sectors of food safety, animal life and health, and plant life and health, including associated environmental risk.

In recent years Seychelles has experienced a marked increase in the frequency of species invasions, including the Melon Fruit Fly, Papaya Mealy Bug, exotic terrapins (Red-eared Slider), Crested Tree Lizard, Ring-necked Parakeet and an as-yet-unidentified hairy caterpillar. The verdant greenery of Seychelles forests is at least partly due to invasive Cinnamon trees, Merremia creepers and other plants.

“Controlling their spread and eliminating these IAS is costly and difficult, if not impossible,” says Randy Stravens, adding that they can have serious consequences on the natural environment and socio-economic activities of Seychelles.

At the book launch on 22 January 2016, Dr Rocamora noted that the publication “encompasses all the work done during several decades by so many partners, including government, NGOs, parastatals, private islands or property owners, and individual scientists.”

“Another book on how to restore places where alien species have been eliminated is the next challenge,” said Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Didier Dogley who wrote the preface for the book.

The publication is available in hard copy from the Government of Seychelles-UNDP-GEF Programme Coordination Unit.  From January 2018 it will be available for download from the  Coordination Unit’s website.

Contact information

For more information, please contact: roland.alcindor@undp.org

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