The Seychelles, a string of 115 verdant, rocky islands in the Indian Ocean, recently announced in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that it would protect 30% of its turquoise waters from commercial use.
Safeguarding some 410,000 square kilometers (158,000 square miles) of the sea will benefit wildlife on the shore and in the water, including 100,000 giant tortoises and some of the worlds last pristine coral reefs. But, beyond helping such species, establishing the new Marine Protected Areas which was made possible through an innovative debt-swap deal will also bolster the health, wellbeing, and prosperity of the Seychellois, who number fewer than 100,000 but host more than 350,000 visitors each year.
Currently hosting only a handful of tourists stranded by the pandemic, the country is under a lockdown aimed at preventing the further spread of the virus. President Danny Faures decision to press ahead with this protection effort, even as his country deals with a public-health emergency, serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of nature to peoples physical and economic wellbeing and not just in the Seychelles.
The human, economic, and social consequences of the rapid and devastating global spread of the coronavirus will last for years. And with the pandemic still unfolding, the most urgent priority is to support those directly affected by the virus and its associated hardships.
But this pandemic has also provided us with compelling proof of how closely our fate is linked with the health of the natural world. And right now, our relationship with nature is broken. We have cut down forests, overgrazed grasslands, built ports and roads, and expanded our cities at a rapid rate, destroying countless natural habitats. At the same time, we trade wildlife globally, moving common and endangered species alike across the world as if they were inanimate commodities.
All of this is bringing us into closer and more frequent contact with viruses that can spread from animals to people, including the COVID-19 coronavirus and dozens of other deadly and debilitating illnesses, from HIV to Ebola. Likewise, our degradation of marine ecosystems causes blooms of pathogens that can cause potentially fatal diseases such as cholera.
The good news is that far-sighted political leaders and the United Nations are already formulating nature-focused action plans that could help to stop the next pandemic before it starts. These strategies include conserving ecosystems and wilderness that are still untouched by human activity, clamping down on wildlife trade (including by educating people about the risks of consuming wildlife), and restoring and protecting significant areas of land and ocean.
The world already safeguards 15% of its land and 7% of the ocean. But, for the sake of our health and prosperity, we must do more. Indeed, there is increasing agreement among countries that we need to return half the planet to nature and use the other half responsibly, and that we should start by protecting at least 30% of it by 2030.
The growth in protected area coverage on land and in the ocean between 1990 and 2018.
Image: Protect the Planet Report 2018
Both nature and people would benefit. Research shows that abundant animals, plants, insects, and microbes living in complex, mature ecosystems can limit the spread of disease from animals to people.
But natural places do much more than provide a safety net against illness. They also shield us from the destructive power of extreme weather, safeguard us from our own pollution, and supply us with food, medicine, and leisure opportunities.
The Seychellois depend on the land and sea for their incomes and food. Fishing employs 17% of the workforce and provides the population with a low-cost, sustainable source of protein. Tourism, which is concentrated along the Seychelles coastlines and is driven by natural beauty on land and underwater, employs some 25%.
Safeguarding 30% of the countrys waters will end harmful activities within the fully protected areas while bolstering sustainable fishing around them. And keeping the countrys natural places pristine including, in addition to its seas, its mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and salt marshes can help to ensure that the Seychelles remains the natural paradise that draws responsible visitors.
When the worst of the pandemic has passed and the world embarks on the hard work of nursing its people, societies, and economies back to health, we must not overlook the need to care for nature and let nature care for us. A healthy environment is our best antiviral, and protecting more of it will help us to rebound from this pandemic and stop the next one before it starts.
Many countries are already demonstrating how we can build stronger bonds between nature, our economy, and our health. And the Seychelles marine-protection initiative offers hope that if every country, no matter how small, does its part, the planet can be safer and more prosperous for all of us.
License and Republishing
Enric Sala, Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society
This article is published in collaboration with Project Syndicate.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
Read the original here:
- Upset in Seychelles presidential election as incumbent loses - The Associated Press - October 28th, 2020
- Seychelles is likely to maintain its record of free and fair elections in upcoming polls - The Conversation CA - October 28th, 2020
- Seychelles - Wikipedia - October 19th, 2020
- Seychelles Travel Advisory Updates - October 19th, 2020
- Trade the US Election 'Game of the Throne' Volatility - FX Empire - October 19th, 2020
- Wedding Bells in the Seychelles Islands Read more Skip - eTurboNews | Trends | Travel News - September 5th, 2020
- President Faure meets with the Red Cross Society of Seychelles - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - September 5th, 2020
- President Appoints new Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Fishing Authority - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - September 5th, 2020
- Region cautiously reopens its doors - The Southern Times - September 5th, 2020
- FJ Book Club: A haunting debut thriller brimming with excess - Fashion Journal - August 10th, 2020
- President Faure visits Agency for Social Protection - News - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - August 10th, 2020
- Seychelles Telecommunications Market Share,Trends, and Growth Opportunities to 2025-Analysis of Seychelles Mobile, Fixed Telephone and Broadband... - August 8th, 2020
- Anantara to debut in the Seychelles with rebrand of iconic Maia Luxury Resort & Spa - Travel Daily News International - August 7th, 2020
- President Faure thanks the Leader of Government Business in the sixth National Assembly - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - August 7th, 2020
- President Faure proclaims the dissolution of the National Assembly - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - August 7th, 2020
- Under the Radar Beaches from the Seychelles to Saint-Tropez - Luxury Travel Magazine - August 4th, 2020
- President Faure attends ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the Office of the Auditor General - Office of the President of the Republic of... - August 3rd, 2020
- The economic substance exemption: escaping the claws of the Cayman tax - Lexology - July 31st, 2020
- Cabinet Business - Wednesday 29 July 2020 - News - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - July 31st, 2020
- Expedition removes 25 tons of waste from remote Aldabra Atoll - UNESCO.org - July 31st, 2020
- Covid-19 Hits Spanish Fishing Fleet in the Seychelles - Euro Weekly News - July 31st, 2020
- Seychelles Is Welcoming Commercial Flights In August, And Here's What You Need To Know - TheTravel - July 31st, 2020
- New guidelines aim to support mangrove restoration in the Western Indian Ocean - UN Environment - July 30th, 2020
- Rescue operation fails to find any sign of Bribie Island couple after boat sinks in stormy seas off African coast - ABC News - July 29th, 2020
- Kangaroo, blue macaws among animals rescued in Assam - The Hindu - July 29th, 2020
- With these rules, Seychelles will reopen to travellers from 1 August - Cond Nast Traveller India - July 28th, 2020
- Interview Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kenya, Somalia and the Seychelles, H.E. Frans Makken - The Netherlands and You - July 28th, 2020
- President Faure receives members of the Seychelles Bible Society - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - July 27th, 2020
- President Faure receives delegation from Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Seychelles - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - July 27th, 2020
- Etihad passengers flying to these nine countries may need Covid-19 tests - The National - July 25th, 2020
- Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi couple spent 15 weeks in the Seychelles after flights were grounded - The National - July 25th, 2020
- How, and Where, Covid-19 Is Spreading in Africa - Direct Relief - July 24th, 2020
- How, and Where, Covid-19 Is Spreading in Africa - World - ReliefWeb - July 24th, 2020
- Ray of light for region's economies - The Southern Times - July 24th, 2020
- THE 10 BEST Seychelles Luxury Resorts - Jul 2020 (with ... - July 22nd, 2020
- Secrets of One of the Most Private Islands in the Seychelles - Luxury Travel Magazine - July 22nd, 2020
- Cabinet Business - Wednesday 15th July 2020 - News - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - July 21st, 2020
- Have we gone batty? - The Borneo Post - July 18th, 2020
- Tuna Spanish breathe after a month stranded in the Seychelles by the Covid-19 - Wire News Fax - July 18th, 2020
- Claim that coconut oil is worse for biodiversity than palm oil sparks furious debate - Science Magazine - July 18th, 2020
- A Review of OverBit - A Seychelles-based Crypto Margin Trading Platform in Forex and Metals Using Bitcoin - bitcoinke.io - July 18th, 2020
- How the Seychelles Islands came to have its name - Face2Face Africa - July 18th, 2020
- Seychelles | Culture, History, & People | Britannica - July 17th, 2020
- Commercial flights to be welcomed to Seychelles in August 2020 - Travel Daily News International - July 14th, 2020
- Tourism as an Agent of Recovery in Post-COVID-19 Southern Africa - Future Directions International - July 14th, 2020
- British Family Of Four Relocates To Tiny Island In The Seychelles - Scuba Diver Magazine - June 30th, 2020
- ECOVIEWS: Tortoises of all sizes roam the globe - Gadsden Times - June 30th, 2020
- Which countries are open for summer travel? Here's the list - CNBC - June 30th, 2020
- Here's how much it costs to buy out an entire luxury hotel during the pandemic - CNBC - June 30th, 2020
- Four Kids and It = one winning family movie - Boston Herald - June 30th, 2020
- USS Carney Concludes Time as FDNF-E Asset with 6th Fleet - SEAPOWER Magazine Online - June 30th, 2020
- Cabinet Business- 17 June 2020 - News - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - June 18th, 2020
- President Faure chairs meeting with multisectoral representatives - News - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - June 18th, 2020
- Exclusive Use of a Private Island at Six Senses Zil Pasyon, the Ultimate Playground in Paradise - Franchising.com - June 18th, 2020
- COVID-19 Is the Biggest Test African Governments Have Ever Faced - BRINK - June 18th, 2020
- Tiny Tax Haven Accounts for $36B of Cross-Border BTC Transactions - Cointelegraph - June 18th, 2020
- All at sea: the future of cruises in the age of contagion - Globetrender - May 31st, 2020
- Seychelles prepares the reopening of its National Museum during the COVID-19 pandemic - India Education Diary - May 31st, 2020
- Seychelles bans all cruise ships till the end of 2021 amid the spread of COVID-19 - Happytrips - May 21st, 2020
- Cabinet Business- Thursday 21st May 2020 - News - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - May 21st, 2020
- President Faure chairs meeting to address maritime security matters - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - May 21st, 2020
- President Assents to Legislation: Children (Amendment) Act, 2020 and Defence (Amendment) Act, 2020 - Office of the President of the Republic of... - May 21st, 2020
- Nature Is Our Best Antiviral - The Asean Post - May 21st, 2020
- COVID-19 Situation update for the WHO African Region, External Situation Report 12 (19 May 2020) - South Africa - ReliefWeb - May 21st, 2020
- Hotels In Seychelles Try To Cope With Loss Of Income - Eurasia Review - April 26th, 2020
- COVID-19: The Economic and Social Impact on Ocean Islands - The New Dawn Liberia - April 25th, 2020
- An opportunity not seen since the Garden of Eden - The Highland County Press - April 25th, 2020
- Over 3000 foreigners held up in Croatia and in no rush to leave - Croatia Week - April 25th, 2020
- FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER | JOE DANIELS - DIVE Magazine - April 25th, 2020
- India's Indian Ocean Diplomacy in the COVID-19 Crisis - The Diplomat - April 25th, 2020
- This tiny island nation is setting the global standard for ocean conservation - AOL - April 9th, 2020
- After Trump, Bolsonaro thanks Modi for supply of anti-malarial drug - Livemint - April 9th, 2020
- Plenty of fish in the Seychelles - Grist - April 2nd, 2020
- Seychelles extends protection to marine area twice the size of Great Britain - Mongabay.com - April 2nd, 2020
- The Brief: Small and growing business liquidity and stabilization, Seychelles' debt-for-conservation swap, development-finance relief, tools for... - April 2nd, 2020
- Cabinet Business - 1 April 2020 - News - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - April 2nd, 2020
- President Faure briefed on security measures in place in response to COVID-19 outbreak - Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles - April 2nd, 2020
- Seychelles Map / Geography of Seychelles / Map of ... - March 26th, 2020
- Seychelles Tourism Board CEO: Stay home and travel later - we are all in this together! - eTurboNews | Trends | Travel News - March 26th, 2020
- 'We better go home': Kearney couple returns from 11-country world tour, is now isolating - Kearney Hub - March 26th, 2020