Praslin's Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve - an area where Seychelles' endemic coco de mer grows in its natural state - is now under the responsibility of the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF).
The foundation already manages Vallee de Mai - the main reserve for the coco de mer, on the second-most populated island of Praslin. Vallee de Mai is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In a press release on Wednesday, the foundation stated that "in assuming this responsibility SIF is extending its conservation mandate to one of Praslin's and Seychelles' most cherished protected areas."
Located at Grande Anse Praslin, Fond Ferdinand covers an area of 122 hectares of land, making it six times larger than Vallee de Mai. Rich with a diversity of endemic animal and plant species, including roughly as many coco de mer palms as the Vallée de Mai, Fond Ferdinand opened its doors in 2013. The transfer of the reserve to SIF follows the retirement of its chief executive.
"Considering SIF's over-several-decades-long track record of scientific research and monitoring of the coco de mer, it is a natural progression for our expertise and evidence-based approach be extended to the Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve. As such, we look forward to sharing our wealth of knowledge of the coco de mer as well as our understanding of the unique ecosystem it creates to ensure the continued effective management and protection of the site," SIF said.
With the transfer of Fond Ferdinand coming into effect as of September 1, the foundation ensures that its responsibility of this site will be different to that of its twining management of the Vallée de Mai and Aldabra Atoll - also a World Heritage site.
Explaining the difference, the foundation's chief executive, Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, told SNA that "UNESCO World Heritage Sites are under regular revision by the World Heritage Committee as well as its advisory body, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature."
"This regular scrutiny guarantees that governance of both of Seychelles' sites, especially Aldabra with its extreme remoteness, have management systems that have evolved over time with particularly high standards and constraints. With Fond Ferdinand, SIF hopes to have a more participatory management approach, one that is informed and dependent on the Praslin community's decisions," said Fleischer-Dogley.
She outlined that this will allow for a more effective transition. Through a public consultation process, the foundation is inviting residents of Praslin and all relevant stakeholders to contribute to this protected area's next chapter.
"SIF has already met with Fond Ferdinand's staff all of whom have been kept on through new contracts and favourable conditions," said Fleischer-Dogley.
She added that her team is conscious of the many opportunities surrounding the Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve and hence SIF is looking forward to identifying public-private partnerships that will enhance the visiting experience of our community and tourists.
The foundation's next steps involve engaging the surrounding community through a survey, public meetings and business workshops. These initiatives, supported by communication with the press and social media, will provide a chance for all interested and affected parties to ask questions, raise concerns and share ideas on how the Fond Ferdinand Nature Reserve can be managed to empower the community, widen business opportunities and extend science while ensuring sustainability.