I don’t know how to replace tourism as the main funding source for conservation. Do you?

As someone who runs a #conservation organisation and a #protectedarea, I am so fed-up of all the Professors and “experts” who tell us we have to find new models to fund conservation since COVID-19 collapsed everything. They tell us we shouldn’t have relied so much on #tourism, but yet have never come up with alternative models. It all sounds so facile – issue a green or blue bond here, set up an endowment fund there, persuade the government to roll out a new deal for the environment. I have read many blogs and papers and attended innumerable webinars since the COVID-19 crisis started but still have no clue how to replace tourism as our primary unrestricted funding source. We have had NO revenues since end of March this year. We’ve knocked on all doors but we’re on our own. Yet Cousin Island Special Reserve is a highly effective and award winning national land and sea Protected Area. We can’t manage surveillance and anti poaching patrols and our long term monitoring programs will end once we run out of money to pay our Conservation Manager. So much for funds available for marine protection.

Finally the #WWF has had the courage to admit they are as clueless as we are. They have launched an innovation challenge to discover and incubate new revenue models that do not depend on tourism, but still enable local communities in Africa to derive income from wildlife, manage their natural resources sustainably and improve their collective wellbeing. WWF is looking for innovative concepts, ideas, revenue or finance models that can generate sustained benefits for rural communities from wildlife conservation, beyond tourism. They are not calling for investment-ready proposals, but for ideas with high potential that might be developed during the incubation programme. But what about institutions like Nature Seychelles? Hmmm! Left behind again!!

Cousin Island Special Reserve had “the perfect marriage between tourism and conservation” until COVID-19 instigated a sudden divorce.

Author: Dr. Nirmal Shah

Nirmal is a well-known and a passionate personality in the Seychelles environmental and sustainability scene having an encyclopedic knowledge of Seychelles biodiversity as well as a wealth of experience in environment management. He has worked in senior positions in the parastatal, government, private and NGO sectors and consulted for international organizations such as the World Bank, IUCN, UNEP, Sida and UNESCO. He has appeared on CNN, BBC, Radio France, PBS, NBC, ABC, SABC and others

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