In partnership with local NGO The Marine Conservation Society of the Seychelles (MCSS) GVI hosted a one day mangrove workshop for local school children. The aim of the day was to introduce the children to the mangrove ecosystem and some of the threats facing them in the local area.
Eighteen children from local schools attended the workshop at the GVI Cap Ternay base on Mahe. The children had been asked to produce a piece of writing or artwork about the environment. The best two entries from each school were awarded a place on the two week ‘Academy by the Sea’ programme run by MCSS. This summer school programme aims to introduce and educate these children about the their local environment through activities such as snorkeling, walks and academic workshops. The mangrove workshop with GVI was part of this programme.
During the workshop the children explored the mangrove system within the Baie Ternay marine park. They went snorkelling to see some of the aquatic life living within the ecosystem. They also received a presentation from GVI about mangrove biology, threats facing them and the importance of protecting these ecosystems. At the end of the day all the children got to be a ‘researcher’ for a few hours as well! In groups they conducted mangrove surveys assessing the density and diversity of mangrove species within the Baie Ternay marine park. The children thoroughly enjoyed learning about the mangroves and the work that GVI conducts in the Seychelles. Hopefully some were inspired to become researchers themselves one day!
Mangroves are a unique and important ecosystem. They are used by a vast array of organisms as breeding, nursery and feeding areas. Mangroves also play a valuable role in foreshore protection, reducing erosion by cyclones and lessening the impact of storm surge. If managed incorrectly, removal of mangroves can result in shoreline erosion and mobilisation of marine sediments. The main factor leading to the loss of mangrove biodiversity is habitat loss caused by conversion or progressive degradation of the forest, water pollution and withdrawal. Education is an essential tool in educating local people on how they can protect these ecosystems in the future.
Abi March, education officer for MCSS, said ‘I am happy that GVI have made the time to share their knowledge and resources with the next generation of Seychellois. This is a wonderful opportunity for these school children to explore and learn about this unique ecosystem’. GVI continues to work towards its long-term objectives to ensure that local children are informed and educated about their surrounding environment.
As the end of the expedition was approaching for twelve of the volunteers, an air of melancholy was descending upon the camp. And yet we had to turn any frowns upside down as Creole Day at the President’s Village was upon us. On a quarterly basis the volunteers join their forces to organise a very special day for the local children’s home.
This week on Cap Ternay has seen a lot of adventure and excitement. Three of our group embarked on a challenging trek from Bel Ombre to our base on Cap Ternay, resulting in 9 hours of ‘Macheteing’ their way through the jungle on a reasonably unused track, which along with amazing scenery and views, left them stranded on “secret beach” resulting in a 40 minute swim round the corner back to base then back again with surfboards and dry bags to pick up their gear. Seybrews were well earned that Saturday night.
On 22nd May 2012 the world celebrated the International Day for Biological Diversity. This yearly event focuses on one area of biodiversity in the hopes of raising awareness and increasing practical action in local communities. This year’s focus was ‘Marine Biodiversity’ which created a perfect opportunity for GVI Seychelles to join forces with local projects and organisations. Together they created a community event to help educate local children and celebrate the abundance of marine biodiversity, which can be found around the many islands of the Seychelles.
During the day the local students were given the opportunity to have a one on one guided snorkel with a GVI volunteer around the marine park, where they were taught to identify different fish and corals found in the shallow waters on the coral reef. Other activities involved mangrove safaris and a chance to try out scuba diving equipment.
In a community where many livelihoods rely on the ocean, this day brought an important message to the future generations and highlighted GVI’s efforts to support conservation through research.
We have been working with the President’s Village Children’s home for eighteen months. Initially the focus was on taking the children for snorkel/swim sessions every few weeks. The children at the home are orphaned, neglected or abused and rarely get a chance to go into the ocean as many of their carers cannot swim. Through the snorkel/swim sessions we hope to foster a love of the ocean in these children so that they may learn to protect the marine environment as they get older.
As part of the continuing partnership we also hold quarterly fundraising activities. The funds raised are put directly towards items that have been requested by the home. Past purchases have included bicycles, ferry tickets for a camping trip, and much needed shoes and clothes.
On 22nd March 2012 thirty volunteers took part in a day of challenges around the island of Mahe. They included hiking up a tea plantation, becoming a sand mermaid, visiting as many beaches as possible and dancing at the Children’s home. It was a day of trials and tribulations that culminated in a sunset cruise around the St Anne Marine Park to thank everyone for their hard work. The day was a great success with over £1000 raised by friends and families for the Children’s home.
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GVI Charitable Trust Manager