be exaggerated: Taking Aldabra or the Vallée
de Mai there are opportunities like nowhere
else to generate theories and models that play
central roles in the development of mainstream
evolutionary biology and pure and applied
ecology. As a „natural laboratory“ and a place
of outstanding beauty at the same time the
Seychelles deserve worldwide appreciation and
all kinds of action to safeguard what could easily
(Geobotanical Institute, ETH Zurich)
It is hugely impressive to see the Seychelles
taking a lead amongst small island states in its
commitment to plant conservation. The response
to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation is
groundbreaking and will do much to secure the
future for the priceless forests of the islands.
(Eden Project, UK)
Future generations will not forgive us if we fail
in the National Strategy for Plant Conservation.
Coming to the Seychelles has been very valuable
for me, to appreciate the remarkable floral
diversity and the complexity of its conservation.
I am pleased therefore that the Strategy
addresses both vital conservation biology issues
and concerns for environmental and economic
Peter Wyse Jackson
(Botanic Gardens Conservation International)
V o i c e s f r o m a r o u n d t h e w o r l d
K a p i s e n
I s s u e 2
A year on Aldabra in the 1970s taught me just how
special and how fragile the unique biodiversity of
the Seychelles is. The preservation of Aldabra is
one of the world’s greatest conservation success
stories. When I visit Seychelles today I am
impressed by the many ambitious conservation
programmes aimed at restoring the endemic
plants and their habitats and removing invasive
(Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh)
My botanical work takes me all over the world but
the islands, the flora and people of Seychelles
remain uppermost in my thoughts. I have so
many wonderful memories, including seeing
Medusagyne for the first time, finding a flowering
Protarum after searching for months and dashing
over to Aride in a storm when I heard Rothmannia
was in bloom.
(Kew Gardens, London)
I remember the Seychelles as botanical jewels,
extraordinary islands holding still largely intact
forests with amazing endemic species. Nobody
can forget their first sight of Lodoicea! The
Seychelles Strategy for Plant Conservation
is both a practical and an inspiring step to saving
this unique heritage and will provide a vital guide
to other island nations working to save their plant
diversity. The plant conservation world needs
good news stories and I am fully confident of
hearing good news from the beautiful Seychelles.
While the Seychelles share many of the chronic
problems facing other oceanic islands I believe
there is a real chance of saving the extraordinary
botanical heritage that makes the Seychelles
(Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Miami USA)
La beauté des Seychelles n’est pas un mythe.
J’ai été frappé par la richesse et l’originalité de
sa flore, ses Coco-de-mer, ses Inselbergs…,
uniques au monde. Je considère les Seychelles
comme une grande sœur des Mascareignes. La
stratégie de conservation me semble complète
et pourrait servir de modèle pour les archipels
voisins. J’espère qu’elle sera à la hauteur de
ses ambitions et qu’elle apportera rapidement
des moyens opérationnels avant qu’il ne soit trop
Ile de La Réunion)
The issues facing conservationists in the
Seychelles and in my native Mauritius are
closely related. Therefore conservation initiatives
adopted in Mauritius are inevitably of great
interest to practitioners in the Seychelles and vice
versa. The production of the Seychelles National
Strategy for Plant Conservation is the latest in an
illustrious line of conservation initiatives. It is to
be hoped that it is an inspiration for conservation
efforts in the Seychelles, Mauritius and beyond.
(CAB International - Africa Regional Centre, Nairobi)
Voices From Around the World
This special issue of Kapisen is devoted to
Seychelles’ National Strategy for Plant Conservation
(NSPC) – and if you are thinking ”oh, how boring”,
read further and discover that there are lots of exciting
things going on in the world of plant conservation!
Following a meeting of the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) in 2002, it was decided that plant
conservation needed a boost. So, countries have
been encouraged to develop national strategies to
meet the plant conservation challenge. Seychelles
is amongst the first and almost certainly the first
small island state to develop such a strategy.
Why does plant conservation need promoting? There
are many threats to our native plants: alien invasive
species (e.g. clidemia; rats that attack seeds and
seedlings); pests such as the spiralling whitefly and
diseases such as takamaka wilt; habitat destruction
and fragmentation (e.g. for housing development);
over-exploitation of medicinal plants and other
plants of value (e.g. coco de mer); extinction of
pollinators. Climate change will have an effect too.
Even bad luck alone may cause extinctions.
PCA and the Botanical Gardens took on the task
of initiating the national strategy process. This
issue of Kapisen gives an overview of what has
already happened and where it may lead to. Denis
Matatiken gives a first hand account of the national
workshop that began the process in the article on
p. 4-5. Many people were involved and 14 primary
plant conservation targets were generated. Certain
of these are highlighted in other articles. On
pages 6-7 you can read about research on a rare
endemic species (Targets 1-3) which will facilitate
its conservation (Target 4). Ex situ conservation is
also part of Target 4. We present the Barbarons
Biodiversity Centre for ex situ plant conservation
on page 13. One area which we often ignore is the
conservation of rare crop varieties (Target 5). More
can be found in the article on pages 10-12. The
important role of education and awareness building
in plant conservation (Targets 9, 10 and 11) is shown
in a collage of pictures (p. 8-9).
There is great support for Seychelles’ Strategy for
Plant Conservation from all around the world, as
can be seen in the messages of support that we
have received (p. 2). We hope that many other
people, locally and internationally, will lend their
support through becoming actively involved in the
implementation of the strategy. The role of PCA
and Botanical Gardens is only as a galvaniser – it
is important and necessary that all people who have
an interest in plants take on a role, however small or
large. Cartoons by Peter Lalande reveal this central
message of the national strategy – that everyone’s
support is needed: the teacher at school, the lawyer
drafting new legislation, those using medicinal
plants, or the controllers at customs.
The National Strategy for Plant Conservation
will appear in print by the end of the year. News
of activities and success stories relevant to the
achievement of the Strategy’s targets will appear in
the next and subsequent issues of Kapisen.
Katy Beaver, Eva Schumacher & Christoph Kueffer
The electronic pdf version of Kapisen can be
The working group on education and awareness buil-
ding at the NSPC workshop in Victoria (E Schumacher).
E d i t o r i a l
By Denis MATATIKEN,
Director Botanic Garden Section of the Ministry of
Environment and Natural Resources, Seychelles
Plants play a significant role in our daily life, but their
conservation has always received less attention
than the protection and conservation of animals.
As a result of that, the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD), which Seychelles ratified in 1992,
has adopted decision VI/9 of the Global Strategy for
Plant Conservation (GSPC) in an effort to strengthen
and accelerate global action for plant conservation.
The GSPC consists of a series of 16 outcome-
oriented global targets for 2010. The CBD invites
parties to develop national targets and to incorporate
them into their national biodiversity strategies.
National targets will assist countries like Seychelles
to protect its floral heritage from serious threats
such as invasion by alien species and habitat
fragmentation. It was therefore vital to call all local
experts together to prioritise and streamline efforts
towards plant conservation so as to derive maximum
benefits from the limited resources available.
From March 16
to the 17
2004, the Plant
Conservation Action group (PCA), in collaboration
with the Botanic Garden Section of the Ministry of
Environment and Natural Resources (MENR) and
Botanical Garden Conservation International (BGCI),
organised a two day workshop to address pertinent
issues relating to plant conservation in Seychelles
and to formulate appropriate strategies and targets
to reduce the rate of plant biodiversity loss. The aim
was to produce a Seychelles National Strategy for
Plant Conservation. Participants from government,
NGOs and the private sector as well as individuals
gathered together under the roof of the International
Conference Centre in Victoria to discuss the best
The workshop was officially opened by Mr. Ronny
Jumeau, the Minister for MENR, who stressed the
importance of conserving our floral heritage since
Seychelles is considered to be the second richest
in biological diversity after Madagascar within the
Indian Ocean region. He also mentioned the urgent
need to address the issue of sustainable use of
native flora since some species have gone extinct
as a result of over-exploitation. In their opening
remarks the PCA Chairman, Mr. Didier Dogley,
and the BGCI Secretary General, Mr. Peter Wyse
Jackson, introduced the participants to the objectives
of the workshop and the context of the GSPC. The
morning session ended with presentations from
members of the National Park and Forestry Section
as well as from the Botanical Garden Section of
MENR on the present status of ex situ and in situ
plant conservation programmes. The discussion
that followed the morning presentations gave the
participants the opportunity to focus on the most
important issues lacking or being overlooked in the
In the afternoon session of the first day the
K a p i s e n
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N S P C W o r k s h o p
Impression from the NSPC workshop in Victoria on the 16th and 17th of March 2004 (E Schumacher).
groups of 6-8 persons. The group composition was
based on their personal interest and professional
background. Each group discussed one of
the five objectives that structure the GSPC; (i)
Understanding and Documenting Plant Diversity,
(ii) Conserving Plant Diversity, (iii) Using Plant
Diversity Sustainably, (iv) Promoting Education and
Awareness about Plant Diversity and (v) Building
Capacity for the Conservation of Plant Diversity.
They were asked to identify in a SWOT analysis the
Strengths, Weaknesses or gaps, the Opportunities
that exist and possible Threats to
plant conservation in Seychelles.
The morning session of the second day started in
a plenary where the group results of the SWOT
analysis were discussed and completed. Then, the
group members came together in the same working
groups and were given the mandate to formulate
group objective. Each group came up with a total
of four to five targets. By afternoon, all the targets
were presented in the plenary and commented
upon by the different stakeholders. By 4:00 p.m,
the Chairman thanked all active participants for
making the workshop a success and also extended
his appreciation to the BGCI representatives for
their time and devotion in the realisation of the
The following day a small group consisting of the
PCA members, Botanic Garden Staff and the two
BGCI facilitators, Peter Wyse Jackson and Stella
Simiyu, went through the targets and came up
with a first draft of the National Strategy for Plant
(NSPC). The draft Strategy was
international stakeholders and experts who were
unable to come to the workshop.
Having played a contributory role in the organisation
and in the participatory process, the NSPC has
equipped me with valuable and fruitful experiences
in the efficient running of such a scientific workshop.
It has given me ample opportunities to widen my
administrative knowledge as well as to provide me
with a deeper insight into plant conservation issues
on a national scale. The chronological development
of the strategies has enabled me to develop the
required technique and also enhance my knowledge
in the logical development of the national targets.
The workshop has also improved the networking
capabilities with the NGOs and other stakeholders
present who made it a fruitful and an enriching
The workshop has provided me with a clearer
understanding of plant issues and also provided
better insights in the planning and implementation
of my work. There are some great challenges that
lie ahead with regard to the leading role that the
Botanic Section has to undertake as well as some
contributory roles we will have to play to ensure that
some of the targets are met in the next five years.
PCA and the Botanic Garden Section being the lead
organizations are aiming to integrate the NSPC
in national strategies and action plans for future
conservation work. This does not mean that all the
responsibilities for any one target are left to us but
rather that we will act as a driving force working in
coordination with all the relevant ‘actors’.
With this National Strategy in hand, we now have
placed plant conservation on the national agenda.
However, to succeed the engagement of each and
everyone is needed. Only by working together
will we eventually achieve its implementation and
The working group on sustainable use of plants at
the NSPC workshop in Victoria (E Schumacher).
Syzygium wrightii seedlings at the nursery in
Barbarons (E Schumacher).
By Alistair GRIFFITHS,
Eden Project & University of Reading (UK)
Belzamin sovaz (Impatiens gordonii) is an endemic
Seychelles mist forest plant. It is an herb that lives
for more than one year (perennial). The large white
flowers occur in ones, twos and occasionally threes
and are up to 5 cm wide, and display a spur up to
8 cm long. Impatiens means impatient, so called
because of the explosive release of their seeds. It is
thought that Belzamin sovaz is of African affinity with
its closest relative being Impatiens walleriana (Hook.
f.) a common cultivated plant in the Seychelles and
throughout the world. Belzamin sovaz is one of
the rarest endemic plants, with only two known
populations left. One population is located on
Mahé with 20 plants, the other on Silhouette with
100 plants. Belzamin sovaz was previously found
on Mahé in three more locations (Morne Blanc,
Cascade Estate and Morne Seychellois). No plants
were discovered at these locations during fieldwork
in 2001 and 2003.
I am a PhD student working on a species recovery
plan for Belzamin sovaz, in collaboration with Eden
Project, Seychelles Ministry of Environment and
Natural Resources and the University of Reading.
This project complements the Darwin Initiative
works on propagation, nursery and establishment
protocols for Seychelles endemic plants (see p.13).
The project demonstrates that the conservation of a
rare plant touches the wide range of complementary
aspects laid out by the Seychelles National Plant
Conservation Strategy (NPCS). Molecular studies
aim to inform us about the levels of diversity and
K a p i s e n
I s s u e 2
B e l z a m i n s o v a z
Belzamin sovaz forms part of the exhibition in the tropical
biome at Eden Project (C Kueffer).
fitness for the different populations. This helps to
evaluate whether mixing them or keeping them
separate is the best solution for re-introduction.
Knowledge on reproductive biology is gained in
the field and laboratory. Information gathered
on distribution, demography, habitat and threats
will ascertain its conservation status and inform
conservation in the field. Studies on seed storage
requirements and best practices in propagation and
cultivation are underway to support in situ and ex
situ conservation. In the following I list the results so
far grouped according to the five objectives of the
OBJECTIVE A: UNDERSTANDING AND
DOCUMENTING PLANT DIVERSITY
Taxonomy, distribution and conservation status
• Morphological studies agree with Merlin & Grant
(1985) and Wilson (1980) in that Impatiens gordonii
is a distinct species.
• This work agrees with Carlström (1996) in that
Belzamin sovaz should be categorised as being
• Belzamin sovaz has been reduced from five to
two populations over the last 200 years (compare
• Five organisations hold ex situ material of
Belzamin sovaz: Eden Project (UK), The Royal
Botanic Gardens Kew (UK), Brest Botanic Gardens
(France), Biodiversity Centre Mahé (Seychelles),
The Nature Protection Trust of the Seychelles
• Belzamin sovaz takes between 23-28 days
from pollination to seed production. The number
of seeds produced per pod for the Silhouette
population is 54 (±11) and for the Mahé population
is 20 (±9).
• Trials indicate that Belzamin sovaz is easy to
propagate from softwood tip cuttings. Cuttings
produced 100% rooting in a period of three
the seed is viable and will germinate from both
populations. When grown in compost germination
was sporadic and occurs over a long period of
• Germination on 1% agar at 26° Celsisus with 12
uniform germination within 14 days.
• Preliminary works indicate that Belzamin sovaz
has orthodox seed. If orthodox then it can be
banked in a seed store.
• Alien invasive plant species (e.g. Clidemia hirta in
the case of the remaining population on Silhouette)
are encroaching the remaining populations.
• Belzamin sovaz is threatened by insect herbivory
from Hippotion eson (The Common Striped
• Morphological observations of Belzamin sovaz
revealed that plants from Mahé have deformed
spurs and their stems, pedicles and peduncles
are red whereas the Silhouette plants have normal
are green. It is thought that the deformed spurs in
Mahé indicate inbreeding depression. Inbreeding
depression occurs more commonly in small
populations and is a factor that is thought to
contribute towards the extinction of plant species.
• Crosses of Belzamin sovaz with the introduced
species Impatiens walleriana were successful
and resulted in a hybrid. I. walleriana is commonly
cultivated in the Seychelles. It is recommended
that any I. walleriana growing near Belzamin sovaz
should be removed to prevent hybridisation.
OBJECTIVE D: PROMOTING EDUCATION &
• Deliberate nursery crosses of Belzamin sovaz
with I. walleriana have produced a cultivar called
Impatiens ‘Ray of Hope’. This plant is being sold
with permission from the Seychelles Government
through Eden Project in the UK to raise awareness
and monies towards conservation of Seychelles
• Belzamin sovaz was displayed at Chelsea Flower
Show where Seychelles conservation issues were
brought to the public arena. The displays won a
Silver Gilt and a Silver medal.
OJECTIVE E: CAPACITY BUILDING
Much progress on Belzamin sovaz (I. gordonii) has
been achieved over the past two years. However
much more work is required before the PhD
work will be completed by 2006. Implementing a
species recovery for Belzamin sovaz can only be
successfully achieved through continued capacity
building, sharing information, building on good
relationships and working in close collaboration with
the Botanic Gardens section and the Seychelles
Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
K a p i s e n
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I m p a t i e n s g o r d o n i i
Carlström A. 1996. Endemic and threatened plant
species on the granitic Seychelles. Seychelles:
Conservation & National Parks Section Division of
Environment Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Planning and
Environment. pp. 110.
Horne, J. 1875. Report on the Seychelles Islands.
Transactions of the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences
of Mauritius, 9 53-75.
Merlin CM, and Grant WF. 1985. Hybridization studies
in the genus Impatiens. Canadian Journal of Botany 64:
Wilson, CG, 1980. Impatiens gordonii (Balsaminaceae).
Curtis’s Bot. Mag., 183: 33-35.
Alistair Griffiths is pollinating Belzamin sovaz
100% germination of Belzamin sovaz seeds in a
petri dish (A Griffiths).
This is one small part of a wonderful new
hand-painted exhibition about invasive
species. It has been prepared by the
Technical Section of the Natural History
Museum in Victoria and will be travelling
around to all districts so that everyone gets
a chance to learn more about these threats
to our biodiversity.
Collage of photos on the Education and Awareness targets
Text and Photos by Katy BEAVER
Life depends on plants! If people learn more about the significance of plants in their lives, they are more likely
to wish to conserve the diversity of plants we have in Seychelles. Three targets in the NSPC are concerned
with education and awareness, within both the formal education system and the public arena. But it is
encouraging to note that the spread of knowledge about plants is already taking place in Seychelles. The
photos on these pages show how.
Local television programmes about the
environment, such as the one shown here,
can be a valuable means of sharing plant
conservation information with the public. One
of the NSPC targets focuses on the use of
media for raising awareness.
Rangers from the Division of Environment share their
knowledge of wetland plants with school students. They
also interact with communities living close to wetlands,
helping people to understand the importance of wetland
ecosystems (Photo: courtesy of Wetland Unit).
The annual National Agricultural Show represents a
wonderful opportunity to spread the word about plant
diversity and plant conservation issues. The growing of
rare crop varieties (plant genetic resources for food and
agriculture), which is one of the targets of the NSPC, can
be promoted at such an event, as can issues such as
alien invasive plants and plant quarantine regulations.
Teachers have a very important role to play in spreading
knowledge to young people. At the National Institute of
Education, trainee teachers are encouraged to go on field
trips, work on environment projects and prepare student
worksheets about plants.
Wildlife Club members on a field trip which included
investigating Seychelles’ special insect-eating plants
– Potao or Pitcher plant. Leaders play an active role
in encouraging students to learn about plant diversity
(Photo: courtesy of Wildlife Clubs).
The tiny green plants which grow on rocks and tree trunks
were the special interest of this group of Wildlife Club
members, who are learning how to unlock the secrets of
this miniature world (Photo: courtesy of Wildlife Clubs).
Eco-tourism is growing in importance
in Seychelles. Leaflets produced by
Forestry and National Parks which
describe the various nature trails in
the terrestrial National Parks help
tourists to understand more about our
endemic plants and to be aware of their
significance in our environment, culture
Creative use of plant materials on display
at the 2004 Agricultural Show. People
can be inspired by these examples – and
what a great opportunity to make them
aware of the need for sustainable use of
By Christoph KUEFFER & Eva SCHUMACHER,
Geobotanical Institute, Swiss Federal Institute of
Why a target on the conservation of rare crops in
a National Strategy for Plant Conservation? Isn’t
it all about our native flora? Why should crops be
When we compiled the comments from the
stakeholders on the draft National Strategy, we
realized that Target 5 on “Conservation of crop
diversity in situ and ex situ” provoked the most
reactions. So, we traveled to the Plant Genetic
Resources research station (PGR
) of the Ministry
at Grand Anse to get first hand explanations.
Mermedah Moustache, director of PGR, and Wilven
Payet, manager of the PGR nursery in Grand Anse,
met us at the entrance of a long alley of Myrtaceae
Soon we enjoyed our first bite from a ripe
Jamalac fruit and thereby landed right in the
middle of our topic. There is hardly a better group
of fruit trees than the family of Jamalac (Syzygium
the myriads of slightly different tastes different
varieties produce. They are perfumed fruits. Take
Jamalac for instance. A whitish inside with a crisp
juicy texture and a typical ephemeral taste, you may
say apple-like, mixed with more or less background
sweetness depending on the variety. In the case of
Jambrosa the perfumed taste resembles rose water.
Pomme gouvernement is sweeter and drier than
Jamalac. Mr. Payet described the different tastes
and textures of the fruit varieties with the precision
of a wine expert. We dived into a new world of fruit
wonders, and thereby almost forget what Myrtaceae
so far signified for us, namely one of the tropical
plant families with the most problematic invasive
species: Gouyav-de-Sin (Psidium cattleianum),
Jambrosa and many Eucalyptus species. Two
invasion biologists in the devil’s kitchen? Forget
work, we thought, and tried next a dark-red, rather
sour Jamblon (Syzygium cumini) plum. Jamblon
baka is said to be the wine of Seychelles.
From the Myrtaceae we moved on to the Sapotaceae
collection: the family of the emblem plant of our
newsletter – Kapisen (Northea hornei), as well as
of Bwa-d-Nat (Mimusops sechellarum). Knowing
that the fruits of these two endemic species are
eaten by fruit bats – fruit-eating connoisseurs par
excellence, we expected new discoveries. We were
not disappointed with Chiku (Manilkara achras) and
Zapote (Pouteria campechiana).
The fruits we encountered on our walk through
the PGR collection sounded like fruits from a
fairy tale: Cherimolia, Corossol, Coeur de Boeuf,
Durian, Carambole, Bilimbi, Mambolo, Mamie
Sapote, Mangoustan, Jubjub, Breadfruit and Rima.
However, we were most impressed by the extensive
orchards of avocado and mango trees. You can
walk through a forest of old and majestic mango
trees and another forest of avocado trees. And the
amazing thing is that every tree is different. There
is every month throughout the year at least one
avocado tree fruiting, and the avocado fruits are
from purple and black to green and yellowish. Some
are small and round, others larger and elongated.
Some are buttery and creamy, others drier and
more suitable for a diet. According to our guides
nowadays Seychellois prefer the large, buttery and
creamy ones. In the 1932 Agriculture annual report
we read: “The small Mauritian variety of avocado
was locally liked because of the firmness of its
meat”. We’d say, let’s preserve different varieties of
avocado for the changing preferences of the future
generations of Seychellois.
K a p i s e n
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A collection of fruits from Seychelles (E Schumacher).
varieties of PGR. The first trees were planted in the
late 1970s and since then the number of specimens
has grown every year. By the 1980s there were
120 different varieties of Mango, and 80 different
varieties of Avocado in the collection! However, for
the last 15 years PGR had to struggle to keep its
collection alive. Funding decreased as agriculture
declined and other major threats are poaching and
housing development. Today, only 60 varieties of
Avocado trees are left. In fact, the problem is not
just a local one. On an international scale the loss
of crop varieties is intensively discussed under
the terminology of “Plant Genetic Resources for
Food and Agriculture (PGRFA)”. A global action
plan was adopted in 1996
. It lists the rationales
basis for food security in a country. Crop diversity
buffers the risk that global change phenomena
such as new diseases or climate change pose.
With more varieties the chance is greater that there
is one which is resistant to say the spiraling white
fly, or that is adapted to a changing climate. In the
Seychelles particularly, where the microclimate and
soils are very variable on a small scale, different
varieties are adapted to different local conditions.
This allows a sustainable production that depends
less on herbicides and artificial fertilizers. Last
but not least, local crops and the associated local
knowledge and farming practices are part of the
cultural heritage of a country.
Fortunately, the PGR staff used their imagination
and came up with several innovative ideas on
how to save the remaining crop diversity. At the
biodiversity center in Barbarons (see p. 13) they
secured 11 ha for an ex situ collection of local crops.
In parallel, they started an inventory of the crop
diversity on farms (in situ). An employee of PGR
visits week after week private farms and asks them
what fruit tree and vegetable varieties they have on
their land. The data is then entered into a national
plant diversity database hosted by the Botanical
For further information contact: email@example.com
FAO. 1996. Global Plan of Action for the Conservation
and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources
for Food and Agriculture and the Leipzig Declaration.
K a p i s e n
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The PGR avocado orchard in Grand Anse (E Schumacher)
a Garden”. Seychellois are encouraged to keep
a small garden in their backyard. At this year’s
agricultural show in Victoria PGR showed what
can be fitted into a small patch of land. If every
home garden in the Seychelles would harbor just
one rare crop variety, 18’000 rare crop individuals
could be saved! For us, the best example of how
much diversity a small patch of land can host, was
one particular mango tree in the mango orchard: a
mang blanc tree that was grafted with one branch
of Raspuri mango, one branch of mang rouge, one
branch of mang sable, and one branch of maison
rouge. On a single tree there were five different
varieties of mangoes that taste differently and fruit
in different seasons.
The replanting of rare crops in home gardens may
be a first step in remembering what agriculture
still meant a few decades ago to Seychellois. Just
think, in 2001 Seychelles imported 1200 tons of
fruits. For instance, 460 tons of apples, 150 tons
of pineapples, 80 tons of pears, and 27 tons of
lemons! In Seychelles, school children proudly eat
their apple for lunch, while in Switzerland they go
for the banana. The Seychelles imported in the
last few years fruits and vegetables for some 50
million rupees per year
! Such an import oriented
for the Seychelles economy, and aggravates the
foreign exchange problem. But also, imported fruits
and vegetables may be produce unsustainably
abroad and threaten plant diversity elsewhere, while
small-scale sustainable production in the Seychelles
would be possible. Eco-tourism that builds both on
Seychelles nature and cultural heritage, and offers
tourists local products such as handicrafts and
fresh fruits may be one promising way forward for
the Seychelles tourism industry
. Local crops may
Many bites of fresh fruits and fruit stories later we
were at the end of our walk through the PGR gardens
and we were reminded of our own mission: What
about the risk of introducing new potentially invasive
plants? For instance, just before we came back to
our car, we saw a recently introduced new variety of
Indian Jubjub (Ziziphus mauritiana), a shrub that is
invasive in Fiji and Australia. Well, we think that the
only solution is a close collaboration between those
that introduce new species and those that manage
natural areas. The knowledge about the risk of a
species becoming invasive is just one more factor
that has to be taken into account when using a new
crop. Whether a species is likely to become invasive
should be part of the local knowledge attached to a
crop, just as is information about where and how a
certain crop grows best, and which variety produces
the best fruits for a satini, salad or fruit juice.
One thing is for sure, crop diversity does not
only mean certain varieties of plants but also the
traditional knowledge and local stories that go with
them. And so, we drove home with a bag full of fresh
fruits, and a memory full of new recipes and stories.
Beaver, K. and C. Morel 2003. Learning for
Günther, S. 2004. Sustainable Tourism Development
on La Digue Island, Republic of Seychelles.
Transdisciplinary Methods for Sustainable Solutions in a
Tropical Paradise. Master Thesis. Geobotanical Institute
& UNS, ETH Zurich.
A mang blanc tree grafted with four other varieties
of mangoes (E Schumacher).
C r o p D i v e r s i t y
Jamalac fruits (E Schumacher).
The next issue of Kapisen, published in November 2004, will include the new regular feature “Success
stories from the Seychelles’ National Strategy for Plant Conservation”. Contributions are welcome until
October 2004. Contact the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For threatened plant species, often the only successful short-term conservation measure is to grow them
in nurseries, so called ex situ conservation. The long-term goal of ex situ conservation is to re-establish
viable populations in the wild (in situ).
In 1998 an ambitious ex situ conservation program of the Seychelles’ endemic flora started. The long-term
goal is to propagate all endemic plant species ex situ and to provide plants of as many endemic species
as possible for re-establishment in the field and for habitat restoration. The ex situ nursery is managed
by the Botanical Gardens Section of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR) and is
situated at Barbarons on the western coast of Mahé. The project is funded by the Seychelles government
and other funding agencies. The development of protocols for propagating endemic plants was partly
funded by a Darwin Initiative grant and supported by the Eden Project (UK).
A team of about 30 staff lead by Damien Doudee has been so far successful in propagating – from seeds
or from cuttings – about 50% of the endemic flora of the Seychelles.
Photographs from the nursery at Barbarons and from plants successfully grown by this project can
be found throughout this ‘Kapisen’ issue. The successes include many rare species such as Drypetes
riseleyi, Vateriopsis sechellarum, Rothmannia annae, Mimusops sechellarum, Impatiens gordonii,
or Seychellaria thomassetii, but also some of the most appreciated local medicinal plants such as
medicinal plants can easily be grown in home gardens. The utilization of medicinal plants must not be a
threat to the endemic flora (compare NSPC sub-target 8b).
Common endemic species propagated at Barbarons in larger numbers are of special interest for habitat
restoration. For instance, a purely endemic palm forest with all 6 endemic palm species has been planted
on abandoned land next to the nursery in Barbarons and will be open to visitors next year. For the
future, an information center, a research center, a biodiversity museum and botanical garden presenting
complete samples of all major habitats of the Seychelles are planned.
Even though there are many successes, some challenges for ex situ conservation still await a solution.
For instance, the endemic Craterispermum microdon, exploited heavily for medicinal purposes and
becoming rare in the wild, can easily be germinated from seeds, but dies before reaching reproductive
Peter Lalande illustrated this
Kapisen with four cartoons. He
is by profession director of the
national archives. As an amateur
cartoonist he has a special interest
in nature and things related to the
environment. At the moment he is
working on a new comic book project:
A kid called Zak who protects the
environment. Another comic book
entitled “Nature’s sense of humor” is
completed. At the moment Peter is
looking for a sponsor to publish it.
Damien Doudee and a young Drypetes
resource on the Seychelles plant diversity with a focus on
dicotyledons, monocotyledons and ferns.
issues through the national media and other means.
available to support public awareness on plants and their
sector, to implement the National Strategy for Plant Conservation
and achieve its targets.
from foreign sources, government and private sectors.
as required to achieve the targets of the National Strategy for Plant
on the conservation of biodiversity.
introduction of new alien invasive species, pests and diseases and
manage existing species that could threaten natural ecosystems.
Acting against invasive species
Linking legislation with plant
Education & awareness
Using plants sustainably