Friday 10th October 2008
Press release from the Seychelles Islands Foundation
ALDABRA NOW AVAILABLE TO MILLIONS THROUGH OUTREACH INITIATIVE UNVEILED AT INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
Aldabra Atoll is featuring in a new global initiative spearheaded by the IUCN and its World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) to raise awareness of the role and importance of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) at an international scale. The initiative was launched on 7th October 2008 at the IUCN’s 4th World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, where the 8000 participants include several representatives from the Seychelles. The partnership, which includes Google Earth, National Geographic, the UN Foundation, WWF and Conservation International, as well as National Marine Sanctuaries around the world, is promoting marine conservation and MPAs by making stunning photographs, videos, stories and information about MPAs available at the click of a mouse to millions of desktops around the world using the platform of Google Earth.
Marine conservation has long taken a backseat amongst the bewildering array of global environmental issues splashed across the news. Yet although oceans cover over 70% of the surface of our planet and the global marine environment is currently facing a suite of unprecedented threats from a combination of climate change and overexploitation of resources, less than 1% of this vast area is offered any kind of protection. Countries around the world have committed to establishing networks of MPAs by 2012, yet at the present pace that goal will not be attained before 2060 at the earliest. The need to accelerate the establishment of MPAs and ‘Protect Planet Ocean’ is thus increasingly urgent.
The initiative involves a new downloadable tool or ‘layer’ in Google Earth which allows web users to see videos and images and to access information as they virtually explore MPAs across the world. Using this, the Seychelles Islands Foundation is able to showcase Aldabra as an outstanding international example of MPA protection and management and provide information to users of Google Earth worldwide. Along with hundreds of other selected MPAs, users are now able to ‘visit’ Aldabra virtually, see pictures of the atoll and its wildlife and read more about the site. By making people more aware of and connected with these protected marine sites, the new initiative should increase momentum towards achieving the goal of a global network of MPAs, which is vital for protecting the world’s oceans in the long term.
The layer requires installation of Google Earth and can be downloaded from: http://earth.google.com/outreach/showcase.html
See also: http://www.protectplanetocean.org/