How one of Africa’s most stunning archipelagoes is going even greener.

By Stephanie Vermillion
December 28, 2020
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Seychelles, an Indian Ocean archipelago about 900 miles off the coast of East Africa, is about as close to heaven on Earth as it gets — with 115 tropical islands renowned for their lush landscapes and unique biodiversity. But even paradise is vulnerable to climate change.

Forests across Praslin, the nation's second-most-populous island, have been decimated by fires in recent decades, exacerbated by increasing drought, erosion, and agricultural land clearing. With blazes as recent as August 2020, roughly 40 percent of the island’s forests are now unlikely to recover without an intervention.

An aerial view of the lush green North Island (Seychelles), surrounded by bright blue water
An aerial view of North Island.
| Credit: Courtesy of North Island

But a growing number of conservationists are determined to take action. Under the leadership of Dr. Elvina Henriette, a conservation biologist at the University of Seychelles, the Terrestrial Restoration Action Society is helping the government employ local partners — including tourism staffers out of work due to COVID-19 — to plant 500,000 trees across Praslin over the next five years. The first segment, which will add 25,000 new palms, mangroves, and more native species, will be completed this month.

A horticulturalist tending to plants in a garden at a hotel in the Seychelles
Evans Ambani, a horticulturist at Hilton Seychelles Labriz, in the resort’s organic garden.
| Credit: Courtesy of Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa

And the country’s eco-initiatives don’t stop there. Many hotels are also doing their part. On the main island, Mahé, the mangrove-flanked Constance Ephelia reduces plastic consumption by re-felling 800 glass water bottles daily, and also irrigates the grounds with gray water treated using solar power. Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa on Silhouette Island recently debuted an aquaponic garden that consumes 95 percent less water than traditional farming methods. With fish and vegetables in a symbiotic environment, it produces roughly 20 pounds of produce each week to be used at the resort's on-site restaurants. And the ultra-luxe North Island, a private island resort with 11 sustainably built villas, runs a conservation program that helps remove invasive flora and fauna and reestablish indigenous species like the hawksbill turtle and Seychelles blue pigeon.