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North Island Rehabilitation Project

  • The impact of humans on the Seychelles archipelago over the past 200 years has been devastating for its uniquely adapted endemic plant and animal species. North Island, one of the 40 inner granitic islands of the Seychelles, is no exception. Formerly a coconut plantation and vegetable/fruits farm, it was abandoned in the 1970s following the collapse of the coconut industry. However, many intentionally introduced plant and animals species (e.g. coconuts, lantana, cats and feral farm animals) as well as unintentionally introduced invasive species (e.g. black rat), remained behind, smothering indigenous plants, decimating endemic animal life and drying up the marshland.

    In 1990, a biodiversity study undertaken to evaluate the Seychelles islands for their potential for rehabilitation identified North Island as suitable, but with the conclusion that rat eradication and vegetation rehabilitation (removal of invader plants and subsequent planting of endemic species) were prerequisites to endemic fauna and flora introductions. This was considered as a financial challenge due to the island's size.

    In 1997, the island was purchased by North Island Company's current shareholders as a tourism venture, with the intention of transforming the island into a sanctuary where natural habitats could be rehabilitated and endangered Seychelles animal and plant species reintroduced and given a space to regenerate. This initiative was called the "Noah's Ark Project" and would be sponsored through the lodge that was developed on the Island.

  • The rehabilitation of the Island, therefore, is being implemented, beginning with the now complete rat eradication and ongoing removal of invader plants, via this project.

    The North Island Rehabilitation Project provides necessary assistance in accelerating the vegetation rehabilitation of the island by adding casual labour to the resident Landscape Team, and supporting the future introduction (in 2007) and subsequent monitoring of Seychelles White-eyes, a critically endangered endemic bird species in support of the Government's management programme to safeguard the survival of this species.

    Additional areas are being rehabilitated by removing alien invader plants and trees and replacing these with endemic broadleaved and fruiting trees. Whilst the fruiting trees will be supplying berries and fruits, the broadleaved trees form a suitable habitat for insects, both being the main food components in the diet of the Seychelles White-eyes.

    The results of the project include a 5.5-hectare area transformed into suitable Seychelles White-eye habitat, and 35 Seychelles White-eyes to be introduced and subsequently monitored.

  • The Seychelles White-eye is the first species to benefit from the rehabilitation project. This species is "one of the most threatened endemic birds in Seychelles, classified until recently as Critically Endangered by IUCN and BirdLife International (Collar & Stuart, 1985; Collar et al. 1994; BirdLife International, 2000) because of its tiny world population and range, the species being found originally in only two islands, Mahé and Conception. Following the establishment of a new transferred population of Frégate Island in 2001 (Rocamora et al. 2002; Henriette, in prep.), the species' global population is now estimated at around 400 individuals (ICS & MENR, unpublished) on three different islands; the down listing of the species to category 'Endangered' has been proposed (BirdLife International, 2005)". (Rocamora, G. & Labiche, A. 2006)

    This project is made possible through the funding of the Annenberg Foundation. The Annenberg Foundation exists to advance the public well-being through improved communication. As the principal means of achieving its goal, the Foundation encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. The Annenberg Foundation has offices in Radnor, PA and Los Angeles, CA. www.annenbergfoundation.org

  • Summary of areas rehabilitated in 2006 on North Island

    Zone 6 (+/- 2.5 hectares - West beach Rd - saddle)
    Alien vegetation clearing
    Planting of endemic plants from nursery

    Zone 8 (+/- 0.5 hectares - Takamaka Forest, West Beach)
    Alien vegetation clearing  
    Planting of endemic plants from nursery

    Zone 2d (+/- 1 hectare - Villa Road)
    Alien vegetation clearing  
    Planting of endemic plants from nursery

    Zone 10 (+/- 0.5 hectare - Bottom of Spa Hill)
    Alien vegetation clearing  
    Planting of endemic plants from nursery 

    Total area rehabilitated: 4 .5 hectares

    December 2006 - February 2007
     Rehabilitation of zones
    - Removal of alien vegetation behind Villa 10 and 11 was completed. Small pockets of alien vegetation behind Villas 8 and 9 and at the bottom of Spa Hill were also removed.
    - Removal of alien vegetation (small coconuts, Alstonia etc) from behind Sunset Bar up to parking area has been completed. Aim is now to plant beach fringe plants along the beach, and coastal forest trees in the opened and cleared Takamaka forests.

    Nursery propagation of endemic plants
    - Daily maintenance of the endemic plants in the nursery is ongoing (watering, fungicides treatment, weeding and pricking out of seedlings).
    - Bagging up of propagated plants continues. Seeds from various places have been collected in Mahé by members of the Botanical gardens. Seeds will be sent to North Island shortly for propagation.