Monday, November 19, 2012

Seychelles has a Big Stock of Blue Carbon

Sea grasses in Seychelles (

The Seychelles archipelago has huge expanses of sea grasses, one of the largest in the Western Indian Ocean. Most people here mistake sea grasses for “seaweeds”. But sea grasses are flowering plants like plants on land unlike “seaweeds” which are algae.

For years many marine conservationists and agencies have given sea grasses stepdaughter treatment. Yet, these ecosystems have extremely important roles to play as habitats, food sources, and sediment stabilizers. Sea grass meadows are well frequented by fish and therefore are targeted by some trap fishermen. About 50 species of fish are found in the sea grasses around the granitic islands of Seychelles.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What’s the future of the University?

University of Urbino signs MOU with Nature Seychelles

Its really a no-brainer - higher education and research are fundamental to our work in conservation and environmental management. Only by underpinning conservation with science, both social and natural, can we save biodiversity.

But higher education around the world is undergoing a huge transformation in terms of its role, mode of operation, and economic structure and value.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Eat like a caveman.

Do you want to be a caveman? (
There are people on this planet who are slimmer, stronger and faster than us. They rarely contract diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, schizophrenia and cancer, says Dr, Ben Balzer, a physician in the US.

These people are the last tribes of hunter-gatherers in the world. Their secret is their so-called natural” diet which has changed little from that of the first humans 2 million years ago, says Balzer, a proponent of the hunter-gatherer or Paleolithic diet, sometimes called the caveman diet. The thing is, would you want to live like them and eat the food they eat?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Vertical Garden – a solution to the urban food blues?

Nature Seychelles portable Vertical Garden

So you want to grow herbs and spices but you don't have enough space? Live in an apartment and don’t have land around you for a veg garden? Have no fear Nature Seychelles has come up with a solution that will give everyone a garden. On the occasion of World Food Day vertical gardens are the latest innovation launched by Nature Seychelles’ Heritage Garden programme. Our portable model has been built from ‘found’ wood and recycled ice cream tubs, but really, you can use bamboo, plastic guttering, pipes, fencing or any other appropriate material. The garden can be as big as you want it to be. I would like to see a time when every home in the new estate at Perseverance has a thriving vertical garden. Wow! That would give each household a good measure of food security.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Prototype this! Scientists get money to apply research in the Western Indian Ocean

Nature Seychelles' Reef Rescuers - proof of concept
“You scientists are always doing more research on the same things. Why don’t you solve all these problems that we have here?” a venture capitalist in Kenya grumbled to me last week.

I was in Mombasa, Kenya last week for the Inception and Partnership meeting organized by WIOMSA, the organization of which I am the President. The meeting was to launch WIOMSA's brand new Marine and Coastal Science for Management program.

My friend the businessman would have been pleased if he had been present because this new 5 year program aims to fund research that will lead to demonstration on the ground. In other words making a workable prototype of whatever the research comes up with.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Roofs in Seychelles are rusting - is the sea getting saltier?

Cousin Island Field Station in 1973 when thatched roofs didn't rust

“I don’t understand it. We just changed the entire roof two years ago and now we need to replace it” says Kerstin Henri, Nature Seychelles’s Director. Kerstin is talking about the international Field Station on Cousin Island Special Reserve which had been re-roofed with supposedly good quality pre-painted, galvanized iron sheets.

“Cheap crap” was someone's response. That may be so but I have another theory. I think that the ocean around the Seychelles has become saltier.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Seychelles animals among World’s Most Endangered

 World's Most Endangered: Seychelles Earwig
Most people who come across earwigs think they are creepy and want to kill them immediately. But there is one earwig that no one in Seychelles has seen alive. The Seychelles Earwig is known from a specimen collected at Morne Blanc on Mahe island.

The Seychelles Earwig, the Seychelles Sheath tailed bat (sousouri banan), the Seychelles Moominia snail have been included among the 100 most endangered species in the world. The report by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and IUCN has been released at the World Conservation Congress taking place in Korea.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Green Jobs - what's the reality?

Convincing government Ministers and young job seekers

As entire nations are being rescued, global unemployment is reaching record levels but at the same time the labor market is expanding by tens of millions of workers each year. In the face of the twin challenges of stagnating economies and climate change, stimulating green industry is more important than ever.

“It's time for a bailout for the environment: one that creates jobs, is global in scope, and can help rebuild communities amidst the ashes of the current economic crisis," says Michael Renner, author of the report, Green Jobs: Working for People and the Environment. The report is summarized from a longer study entitled Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World, commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Labour Organization, the International Trade Union Confederation, and the International Organization of Employers.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

No fish and no fishers? The future of the Seychelles artisanal fishery looks bleak

Artisanal catch (Tim Holt)
Ah! A nice plate of grilled fish and rice. Familiar yet delicious. As much a part of Seychellois cuisine as it is an important piece of our cultural identity.

The Seychelles food staple is fish and rice. The rice comes from overseas but the fish from our waters. As individuals we eat more fish than almost anyone else in the world - every Seychellois eats 65 to 75 kilos of fish every year.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes

mosquitoes spread the disease

 During my teenage foray into science fiction I read a novel by Ray Bradbury by this name which scared my pants off. It is about a dangerous character Mr. Dark who comes to a small town with his maniac carnival. Sometime later I bumped into the original phrase whilst reading Shakespeare’s Macbeth in school: “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes” says Macbeth.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hot temperatures cool economies and heat up conflicts in poor countries

A new paper by Melissa Dell, Benjamin Jones and Benjamin Olken in the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics reveals that increases in temperature may have reduced the industrial and agricultural production of developing countries.

The paper examines historical fluctuations in temperature in countries to identify effects on economic outcomes. The researchers found three key results. First, higher temperatures substantially reduce economic growth in poor countries. Second, higher temperatures may reduce growth rates, not just the level of output. Third, higher temperatures have wide-ranging effects, reducing agricultural output, industrial output, and political stability. The authors compared annual temperature and precipitation changes from 1950 to 2003 with aggregate economic output data. Based on the data, the researchers estimated that a one degree Celsius rise in temperature in a given year had reduced economic growth by about 1.3 percentage points on average.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Seychelles tops Ocean Health Index.

Global map of marine health index scores (Halpern et al, NCEAS 2012)

Seychelles and Germany have the fourth healthiest seas according to the Ocean Health Index which provides the first ever global benchmark of 171 coastal regions

The top 3 on the list are the US-owned Jarvis island in the Pacific, a grab bag of other US posessions labelled as USA Pacific Uninhabited Territories and Clipperton Island owned by France.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Into the Blue: Ocean Foundation offers Blue Carbon Offset

As a member of the International Advisory Board of the Ocean Foundation it gives me great pleasure to announce that the Ocean Foundation is offering the first Blue Carbon offset possibility.

The Foundation's SeaGrass Grow! project will be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions from the core activities of the 2012 International Seafood Summit. Seafood Choices to be held in Hong Kong from the 6th to 8th September.

As such, the 2012 International Seafood Summit is a premier, global stage-setting opportunity for advancing blue carbon, an exciting and emerging concept that addresses climate change and promotes marine conservation

The natural coastal ecosystems of seagrasses, tidal marshes, and mangroves take up and sequester large quantities of carbon. If these ecosystems are degraded or damaged by human activities, their capacity as carbon sinks is lost.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Publish AND Perish – a radical rethink of academic publishing

The business model of academic publishing is based on a double, or even triple, appropriation of public resources where universities pay for the research, writing, reviewing and even editing of journals, which they then have to buy back for their libraries, says the authors of a new paper entitled “The poverty of journal publishing".

In both its political economy, and its concern with ranking the productivity of academics through their research outputs, the academic publishing industry is at the forefront of strategies of privatization and accumulation of knowledge through intellectual property rights, as well as the measurement and exploitation of immaterial labour, says the authors.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Waiter, there's a fin in my soup!

As the battle rages on in the “Shark Wars” in Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, with surfers and environmentalists at odds about proposed shark culling, China has made an unlikely but momentous move towards shark conservation – it has banned shark fin soup at official banquets.

China, the world’s largest consumer of shark fin soup, has announced that it will take up to three years to fully implement the ban, but “given the right circumstances this could happen quicker”.

As many as 73 million sharks are killed worldwide every year, an astonishing number. Sharks are under particular threat due to their conservative life history traits which are slow growth rates, late sexual maturity, long gestation periods and birthing only a few young at a time.