The Republic of Seychelles spans a vast expanse of the western Indian Ocean, with over 100 islands, 1,200 km of shoreline, and a marine area of 1.35 million square kilometers. The Seychelles also ranks among the most ocean-dependent economies on earth, it’s population of under 100,000 people relying heavily on ocean and coastal ecosystems for income, employment, health, and well-being. Thus, maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems and sustainable use is a key principle of Seychelles’ Blue Economy strategy, including appropriate valuation of ecosystem goods and services in planning and national accounting.

Over the past decade the Seychelles has been a world leader in developing a comprehensive system of marine protected areas in a highly inclusive and equitable process with key stakeholders. The current coverage of this network encompasses over 444,000 km2(33%) of the total maritime jurisdiction of the country. The purpose of this study was to quantify the ecosystem goods and services provided by Seychelles Protected Area System. All maps and data are available from the Mapping Ocean Wealth in Seychelles Online Map Viewer and Data Catalog.

Key findings from this study include the following:

  • In Seychelles, approximately 90% (1,149 km) of shorelines benefit from protection by fringing coral reefs, with 77% (889 km) of these shorelines located in or adjacent to protected areas. Most of the latter, however, are far from human habitation and of the 44,280 people who live in low-lying (<30m) coastal areas only about 18% receive risk reduction from reefs that fall within protected areas.
  • Every protected area in Seychelles contains blue carbon from either seagrass, mangroves, or both, with the total sum of blue carbon found in protected areas estimated to be 156.7 million metric tons (Mt). The numbers are dominated by the contribution of seagrasses most notably from the Mahé Plateau.
  • Within Seychelles, we estimate that coral reefs are generating US$51.5 million annually from on-reef activities such as snorkeling and diving and that these activities generate the equivalent of 30,156 visitors to the Seychelles.
  • Natural values of the beaches in Seychelles are estimated to be generating a combined total of US$160 million of tourism expenditure annually with 94,000 visitors who are attracted specifically to the natural aspects of Seychelles’ beaches.

The ecosystem service data generated through this project can strengthen existing knowledge, but can also create new understanding, filling knowledge and data gaps on human uses that had been less widely considered or mapped. The results of this analysis suggest that in general Seychelles’ protected areas make a very strong contribution toward protecting the values that underpin the nation’s Blue Economy. We highlight outstanding ecosystem service values within marine protected areas that can help guide development of future management plans, as well as potential gaps where important services may not be adequately represented within the PAS for the long-term sustainability of these values.

 Learn more about  Marine Spatial Planning in Seychelles here. 

Funding and other support was provided by the Third South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Project (SWIOFish3) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE).

Image Credit: Jason Houston