afrol News, 28 September - Cousin Island in Seychelles is launched as the world's first "carbon neutral natural reserve" at the national 2010 Tourism Expo. Eco-tourists flying in from overseas are assured their flights' CO2 emissions are reduced elsewhere.
Seychelles' 2010 Tourism Expo was launched in Victoria yesterday by President James Michel and stood in the light of the Indian Ocean archipelago's increased focus on biodiversity and eco-tourism.
In this context, the Expo included the launching of Cousin Island as "the world's first carbon neutral nature reserve" by Nirmal Shah, leader of Nature Seychelles, the national body that runs the reserve.
Cousin Island already welcomes thousands of tourists each year. "In recognition of the environmental impact of these visitors, most of whom fly from Europe and reach the island by boat, and after media reports in Europe urging citizens not to travel to long haul destinations like Seychelles, Nature Seychelles took the decision to make the reserve carbon neutral," according to Mr Shah.
"Nature Seychelles was concerned about the impact of such media campaigns. Our main concern was the possible negative effect on tourism revenues that go towards conserving Cousin and other environmental projects," Mr Shah explained.
The Seychellois became aware of anti-long flight campaigns in Europe after afrol News wrote about the "Sylt instead of Seychelles" campaign in Germany in 2008. The article titled "Africa to pay for Europe's 'green politics'" was reproduced and referred to in many African media. Also Seychellois diplomats in Germany noted the campaign with concern, reporting home.
Nature Seychelles since that commissioned "a rigorous carbon footprint assessment" of Cousin Island from Carbon Clear, a European carbon management company. This included both on and off island costs as well a
Seychelles President James Michel (r) holding a "Coco de Mer" double coconut at the 2010 Tourism Expo
s the hotel, transport and other impacts of international visitors. "We found that we were responsible for more than 1,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents annually," according to Mr Shah.
The restored forest on Cousin was estimated to absorb a certain amount of this. But the bulk had to be offset. Nature Seychelles therefore invested in "high quality carbon credits in order to offset that footprint."
It was decided to support a high-impact and independently verified clean cook stove project in Darfur, Sudan, buying carbon credits. Altogether, therefore, Cousin Island's tourism industry therefore became carbon neutral.
Seychellois President Michel yesterday was full of praise for the world's first carbon neutral tourism destination. "The carbon neutral initiative taken by Nature Seychelles is a very positive thing. It is the first such project in the world, yet again showing Seychelles’ leadership on environmental matters and conservation," said the President.
President Michel also promised further developments of Seychelles as an eco-tourism destination. He noted that, while Seychelles currently has the world's highest percentage of protected area - with Silhouette Island's recent declaration as a nature reserve bringing Seychelles to 47 percent - he hoped to soon have over 50 percent of the country dedicated for protection.
Eco-tourism and biodiversity was definitively going to be "the future of the Seychelles brand," a government statement today said. "Our tourism industry depends on our ability to protect the natural beauty of our islands," President Michel added.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.