The Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) is a non-profit charitable organisation that was established as a public trust by the government of Seychelles in 1979. SIF manages and protects the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Aldabra Atoll and the Vallée de Mai and has the President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, as Patron. SIF is managed by a Board of Trustees of 15 members who are appointed by the President. This board represents individuals and organisations from both Seychelles and overseas who are concerned with the conservation of wildlife and bring relevant expertise and knowledge to the management of SIF. SIF is the longest established local organisation working in nature conservation in Seychelles and has taken a pioneering management approach by twinning the two sites. The foundation is mandated and dedicated to ensuring that the World Heritage Sites of Seychelles are well-managed protected areas where conservation, research, education and tourism are sustainably balanced. A major focus is on scientific research to direct, support and improve conservation management of the unique biodiversity and ecosystems of these two very different sites. To successfully operate and protect two World Heritage sites which are more than 1000 km apart and each with their specific set of challenges, SIF relies on income generated primarily by entrance fees and sales from the Vallée de Mai. This is supplemented by project funding, grants and donations. Aldabra does provide some direct income through visitor impact fees but piracy in the Western Indian Ocean has compromised this source of revenue in recent years. SIF’s work with and management of these sites will continue to be dependent on visitor numbers and the generosity of our supporters for the foreseeable future.
Across the world there are unique sites of inspiration and wonder that form part of our universal natural and cultural World Heritage. These sites are special as they have outstanding significance and value, irrespective of where they are located. Under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) the World Heritage Convention was adopted in 1972. This convention seeks to identify, protect and preserve cultural and natural heritage around the world that is considered to be of outstanding universal value to humanity. Seychelles ratified the World Heritage convention in 1980 and has two World Heritage Sites; Aldabra Atoll (inscribed in 1982) and the Vallée de Mai on Praslin (inscribed in 1983). Aldabra and the Vallée de Mai were inscribed onto the World Heritage List as natural sites as they satisfy several of the selection criteria set out by the World Heritage Committee. They are not only outstanding examples of ongoing evolutionary and biological processes, but contain the natural habitats of threatened species and are places of exceptional and universal beauty. For more details on these criteria please see the pages for Vallée de Mai and Aldabra. World Heritage status brings greater recognition to areas of natural and cultural value and requests a global commitment to their continuing protection and management. The Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) has been responsible for the management and protection of both of Seychelles’ World Heritage Sites for over 30 years. Guided by the convention and the outstanding universal values assigned to each site, SIF has been instrumental in the conservation and management successes of these two sites. Management plans, management effectiveness assessments and reporting systems set by UNESCO have been implemented and completed by SIF, and the local population are encouraged to participate in the preservation of this natural heritage through public awareness and outreach activities. The UNESCO sites also provide for a range of economic opportunities for Seychellois. More information on UNESCO’s World Heritage can be found here.
At the 30th anniversary celebrations of Aldabra Atoll as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012, SIF Chairman Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne announced that SIF would be building a visitor centre called ‘Aldabra House’. Due to the isolated location and difficult accessibility of Aldabra, SIF is planning to build a remote access visitor centre on Mahé, the main island of Seychelles. The main aims of this world-class visitor centre are to increase public access to Aldabra, raise awareness and visibility of Aldabra and its importance as a natural heritage site of Seychelles and the world, and to diversify and increase sustainable financing mechanisms for the site.
Partners and supporters
- Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change
- Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development
- Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA)
- Plant Conservation Action Group
- Global Environment Facility (GEF)
- Mangroves for the Future
- GOS/UNDP/GEF – Project Coordination Unit
- University of Seychelles
- Islands Development Company (IDC)
- Island Conservation Society
- Global Vision International (GVI) Seychelles
- Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB)
Long-term Research Collaborations
- University of Zurich, Switzerland (base of ZARP: the Zurich-Aldabra Research Platform) – Dr Dennis Hansen, Dr Gabriela Schaepman-Strub, Dr Arpat Ozgul, Dr Erik Postma and Wilfredo Falcon (research into the ecology, genetics and conservation of the Aldabra giant tortoise and its ecosystem; habitat mapping, vegetation and climatic research)
- TU Darmstadt, Germany – Dr Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury (coco de mer and palm forest ecology and conservation; invasive plant management)
- Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent, UK – Dr Jim Groombridge and Dr Jim Labisko (conservation genetics, amphibian ecology)
- Rhodes University, and South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), South Africa – Phil Haupt, Dr Paul Cowley and Dr Anthony Bernard (reef mapping and marine ecology)
- ETH Zurich, Switzerland – Dr Chris Kettle, Emma Morgan (coco de mer genetics and conservation)
- Dr Janske van de Crommenacker (landbird genetics and ecology)
- Dr Jeanne Mortimer (marine turtle ecology)