SPGA Is Guided by it's New Act to Ensure Conservation of Protected Areas

SPGA Is Guided by it's New Act to Ensure Conservation of Protected Areas

On the 1st April 2022, a new era dawned over the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SPGA). This came about as the official commencement date of the newly approved Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority(SPGA) Act, 2022(Act 4 of 2022).  The much awaited piece of legislation has given SPGA added wind in its sails to ensure that the protected areas and gardens of Seychelles are carefully managed and conserved. The SPGA Act legally completed the merger of the former Seychelles National Parks Authority and the National Botanical Garden Foundation.  Assented by the President of the Republic, Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan on the 23rd of March, the Act designates that the authority is to manage and administer the parks and gardens, as well as any other area designated as such. Cited under the Act are the 12 functions and mandates of the Authority, namely:

  1. Promote the participation of the Government, the public and businesses in conservation work
  2. Protect and manage effectively the ecosystems and biodiversity in designated protected areas
  3. Implement national conservation policies and obligations under multilateral agreements
  4. Provide tourism and recreational activities
  5. Promote education and awareness
Corals from the nursery

Following the commencement of the new piece of legislature, the Authority is now officially entrusted with managing 6 Marine Parks, 2 Terrestrial National Parks, 3 Gardens and a Special Reserve on La Digue. In line with its mandate, the organization has become seemingly dynamic and proactive in ensuring that its laws are properly enforced to ensure that there is sustainable management and protection of these fragile ecosystems and sites which are dearly loved by the locals and tourist who visit the country.

Another important piece of legislature which works side by side with the SPGA Act, allowing the entity to carry out its functions is the Nature Reserves and Conservancy Act, 2022(Act 3 of 2022). Although not yet having a commencement date, the Act has been approved by the National Assembly and further assented by President Ramkalawan.  Under this Act, the powers of SPGA, enforcement and compliance, offences and penalties, management and development in protected areas are stipulated. This act makes provision for the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components.

Baie Ternay

A crucial aspect to this Act is Section 8- Enforcement and Compliance. Through section 8, sub-section 20, all enforcement officers of SPGA within a marine protected area, the national parks and gardens are authorized to search, pursue, board and detain any vessels, motor vehicle or conveyance, as well as any persons who are found committing an offence under the Act. Additionally, by the powers entailed through the Nature Reserves and Conservancy Act, enforcement officers may without a warrant execute such responsibilities.  Parks users and visitors must at all times comply to the rules of protected areas to ensure that they are not infringing regulations of the Act. Activities considered as offences in the protected areas and gardens include hunting, fishing or any activities which will alter the soil, vegetation, flora and fauna or cause pollution. The public are also prohibited from lighting fires or charcoal in areas which could cause danger to the different species in the protected area. Anyone seen destroying or removing delicate biodiversity such as wood, trees, corals, mangroves, seagrass etc. will be committing a serious offence and will be liable to a fine or imprisonment, and/or both of the mentioned, and also pay for the cost of restoration.

Marine and Terrestrial Park goers, similarly to those visiting the Gardens and Special Reserve are urged to be cautious when entering the protected area and always remember that there will be other users after your visit. Therefore, everyone must ensure that they are making use of the area in a manner which will not affect or impede the experience of the next person.