Biodiversity in Seychelles
Over 50 percent of Seychelles’ territory is under protected area and over 80 percent of its land area is forested with natural forests and plantations, which are a repository of globally important terrestrial diversity. The country is designated by Conservation International as one of the greatest global biodiversity hotspots. Seychelles is a storehouse of marine biodiversity, and biodiversity forms the basis for the country’s two major economic sectors, tourism and fisheries. Seychelles is well-known for the rare beauty of its environment.
As a Small Island Developing State, Seychelles’ land area is small with limited natural resources, thus putting its biodiversity at risk from human-induced pressures such as unsustainable fishing activities and habitat destruction, and from invasive alien species. Climate change, which is the single greatest medium- to long-term threat to Seychelles’ biodiversity and related socioeconomic well-being, also exerts some pressure on the ecosystem.
Nagoya Protocol and ABS Implementation
The Republic of Seychelles has been a Party to the Nagoya Protocol since October 2014, but it is yet to have a comprehensive legal framework for implementing Access to genetic resources Benefit Sharing (ABS). The country developed a draft bill on ABS in 2005 but the bill was not adopted. In 1997, it developed its first National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, and in 2014 it published a revised version of the plan. The latter version, however, has considerations for a comprehensive review of biodiversity-related legislation including the promulgation of ABS regulations. The Seychelles Bureau of Standards has the broadest biodiversity mandate and is empowered to authorize biodiversity research projects and manage access to genetic resources.
Current UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project Activities in Seychelles
Activities under the UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project are yet to commence officially. However, the project will support the development of a legal framework for the implementation of ABS in the context of the Nagoya Protocol. Through training and a series of knowledge exchange activities it will build the capacity of stakeholders to support and implement the framework. Support will be provided to strengthen coordination and partnerships, integration of ABS regulation across sectors, monitoring of legal export and access permits, establishment of measures for control and compliance, and clarification of the roles of national stakeholders and institutions.
The project will support awareness-raising to increase knowledge and understanding of ABS and support for project activities. It will facilitate the creation of new economic and research opportunities for sustainable conservation of genetic resources in the country.