Since 2010 SIF has been delivering an exciting Education and Outreach programme alongside its conservation and research activities at Aldabra Atoll and the Vallée de Mai.
Together with the management and protection of Seychelles’ two World Heritage Sites is the need to improve local knowledge and awareness of the unique environments of these sites. SIF has an Education and Outreach Programme Officer based at the Vallée de Mai who conducts different activities to reach out to and to engage the many sectors of the Seychellois public.
SIF Holiday Camp
In 2011 the first SIF holiday camp was held at the Vallée de Mai. This five-day camp is held in the school holidays and is open to all primary school students on Praslin. Each camp takes a maximum of 30 students aged between either 4–7 or 8–11 years old. The aim of the holiday camp is to increase the overall environmental awareness and knowledge of these students using real-life examples from Aldabra and the Vallée de Mai. These serve as a vehicle to make the natural environment more interesting and relatable to the students.
Friends of Vallée de Mai school club
Every one of the four schools on Praslin has a ‘Friends of Vallée de Mai’ school club. Each club has up to 30 student members and one teacher as club leader. The children have allotted Extra Curricular Activity (ECA) sessions scheduled each week at school and the SIF Education Officer regularly attends these sessions to guide and facilitate the activities of the club. The club members are also regularly involved in activities held at the Vallée de Mai and at national level. The aim of the Friends of Vallée de Mai club is to foster a sense of ownership and interest in Seychelles two World Heritage Sites, the Vallée de Mai and Aldabra Atoll, whilst helping the members to acquire a greater sensitivity and awareness of the environment in general and the threats it faces.
Educational visits to the Vallée de Mai and Aldabra Atoll
Throughout the year many school groups from both Mahé and Praslin visit the Vallée de Mai as part of their curricular activities. These visits include a guided tour of the Vallée de Mai forest and provide an excellent opportunity for the students to learn about the ecological and biological processes of this unique palm forest. During these visits the site becomes an outdoor classroom and this direct contact with the natural world enriches the learning experience for many students. The logistics of transporting school children to Aldabra is a great deal more difficult than the Vallée de Mai therefore educational visits are limited. However, SIF does sponsor an annual trip to Aldabra for the winners of the national Eco-School award run by the Ministry of Education. Throughout the year each school undertakes a variety of environmental activities at their school and is awarded points for each one. The schools with the highest number of points win the Eco-School award. They are rewarded with a visit for some of their pupils and teachers to Aldabra, where they can learn more about the Seychelles’ environment and be inspired to protect it in the future.
Education and Information Centre
The Vallée de Mai visitor centre has a dedicated Education and Information Centre. This centre serves as both a focal point for environmental educational activities on Praslin, but also as a means of disseminating information to the general public and visitors on the Vallée de Mai and its wildlife.
SIF uses several types of outreach activity to inform and educate the wider Seychelles community about the Vallée de Mai and Aldabra.
Representatives from SIF regularly attend national and regional events to disseminate information to the public. At these events, SIF aims to engage the public in relevant topics and secure their support through promotional materials and interactive games.
Events are also held at the Vallée de Mai with members of a number of community groups on Praslin attending. These events can range from a fun run to highlight the threat of Coco de Mer poaching, to hands on fieldwork helping to remove invasive plant species. The involvement and support of the local community is integral to the long term protection and management of the Vallée de Mai.