A new project has kicked off in Seychelles to highlight the rich heritage of coral reefs and children as their custodian. Pareo is being implemented in Seychelles, Mauritius and Reunion – a French department.
Implemented by the “Research Institute for Development (IRD),” and funded by Europe, France and the Regional Council of Reunion, Pareo seeks to raise awareness about the coral reefs of the Indian Ocean region.
A three-day training held recently introduced participants to specific developed educational tools and games, namely the MARECO kit, which will be used for teaching in primary schools.
Lola Massé, the Pareo Project Manager – explained the main objectives of this initiative: "Ensure a better knowledge of Indian Ocean coral reefs by transferring the scientific knowledge in a fun and stimulating way, connect and reconnect to coral reefs, to better understand them and go for active conservation; Promote networking among stakeholders (children, community, decision-maker) to raise a common feeling, and ensure efficient management.
According to Massé, environmental education is one of the essential pillars to amaze, raise awareness and inculcate new behaviours in children, the citizens of tomorrow.
“The Indian Ocean islands have in common an exceptional reef heritage which unfortunately deteriorates under human pressure resulting in significant loss of biodiversity. However, these ecosystems are the source of many benefits for local fishing, coastal protection, and development of recreation and tourism,” said Massé.
The marine biologist added: “In the interest of all, coral reefs require enhanced protection, combined with awareness to ensure their protection, as well as transmitting scientific knowledge to the general public.”
In Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – Pareo is being implemented in partnership with the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA), the Ministry of Education and Human Resources and the Wildlife Club of Seychelles.
Participants of the training were teachers as well as representatives of not for profit organizations working in marine conservation.
“This training will broaden my knowledge about coral reef in order for me to pass on to the school children especially when I teach them about the Corel reefs of Aldabra,” said Maria Brioche – outreach and education officer from the Seychelles Island Foundation, which manages the Aldabra atoll, a world heritage site.
Brioche added: “I will also have different games and educational tools that will help children understand why we need to protect the corals' reefs as I can know identify.”
Benjamin Martin – responsible for Regional Corporation between Seychelles and Reunion, which funded the training, said the core of their work and funding goes to bringing the islands closer together. “We can do that because we are very close culturally, economically and we share the same space, we share the same ocean.”
The training also included a field trip to Ste Anne Marine Park where the trainees saw at first-hand the reef ecosystem, its biodiversity and its management.