Monday, 24 July 2017

Activities & Excursions in Seychelles

Explore the Tea Tavern Glacis Nature Trail 

This nature trail is short (20-30 minutes) and easily accessible from the road between Victoria and Port Glaud. The path starts just above the Tea Factory and is not far from the Morne Blanc Nature Trail and the Mission heritage site.

The trail presents a wonderful opportunity to view flourishing native vegetation where there is little competition from introduced species, as it is part of a habitat restoration site in the Morne Seychellois National Park. There are also magnificent views to the west and south of Mahé Island.  Photo of view

Plants to be seen include the insect-catching Seychelles pitcher plant and a variety of other endemic trees, palms, shrubs and herbaceous species. Endemic birds such as the Seychelles Bulbul, Blue pigeon, Sunbird, Kestrel and Swiftlet may be seen, as well as the cryptic chameleon if you are lucky. Tiny frogs may be heard calling too.

What was the restoration process?  

Restoration is the process of returning a degraded habitat into a healthy ecosystem that is biodiverse and resilient. At the Tea Tavern glacis, restoration started in 2011 as a small area which formed part of a research project on the effects of vegetation restoration on the glacis habitat (and its plant and animal community). The glacis vegetation was formerly heavily invaded by plant species introduced into the Seychelles, even though glacis native plants are well adapted to the harsh environmental conditions on these rocky outcrops. Unfortunately, invasive plants compete aggressively with the native vegetation for space, light, water, soil nutrients and pollinating insects. Often the native species (both plant and animal) struggle to survive the onslaught! So during the restoration, the invasive alien species have been removed using a method which reduces their chance of re-growing. Although seeds continue to germinate and alien seedlings have to be removed regularly. Fortunately in some parts, native seedlings are also sprouting and this natural regeneration is encouraged.

Between 2014 and 2016, the restored area was expanded to cover an area of 4.2 hectares. This was enabled by funds from the GEF Small Grant Programme, through a project set up by the Plant Conservation Action group (PCA, a local NGO) and the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA, which carries out the specialised work of removing alien plants). 

This funding also enabled PCA to involve the local community of Port Glaud, whose district the Tea Tavern site falls within. Port Glaud residents received some training and have also helped significantly with weeding of alien seedlings and creating a safe pathway for visitors. They will also act as guardians of the site, keeping an eye on progress in the restoration and noting how people are using the site.

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