Seychelles announces “world’s first carbon-neutral nature reserve”

The government of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean has named Cousin Island Special Reserve the “world’s first carbon-neutral nature reserve”. The carbon-neutral status reflects a desire by the protected area’s management (Nature Seychelles, an NGO) to offset the greenhouse gases produced by tourists to Cousin Island each year. This includes thousands who fly to Seychelles from Europe.

To achieve carbon neutrality, Nature Seychelles purchased carbon credits from a project in Sudan that is actively reducing greenhouse gas emissions by distributing efficient cook stoves. The total cost of the purchased credits was £8169 (US $13,000).

“We wanted our eco-visitors to come to Cousin Island conscience-free, knowing their carbon footprint has been neutralized,” says Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive. The credits were purchased with revenue from the Cousin Island entry fee, which is 500 Seychelles rupees per person (US $42). Nature Seychelles will purchase carbon credits each year to maintain carbon-neutral status. The offset process is audited by an independent firm to ensure its reliability. “International standards and benchmarking are important in this field [of offsets], where there may be many schemes on offer that are not accredited or verifiable,” says Shah. Cousin Island Special Reserve comprises a 27-hectare island and surrounding waters up to 400 meters from shore. For more information on the carbon-neutral status, go to

Honduras and Palau call for countries to designate shark sanctuaries

Honduras and Palau, two countries that banned commercial shark fishing in their waters, have challenged other countries worldwide to work together to save the world’s shark species. In a joint statement released in September, the presidents of the two countries called on coastal nations to designate shark sanctuaries, where no shark fishing would be allowed. They also called on fishing nations to stop the practice of shark finning and the global overfishing of sharks. A press release on the statement, along with an audio recording of the presidents’ joint press conference, is at

Malaysian state calls for phaseout of plastic bottles at marine parks

The tourism and environment minister for the Malaysian state of Sabah has directed his state’s MPAs to reduce and ultimately ban the use of plastic bottles at their sites. MPA officials are now holding meetings with tour and diving companies to see how the phaseout could be implemented. In September, a dive team collected more than 800 kg of plastic material – much of it plastic bottles – from one MPA. “We have had enough of plastic bottles being dumped indiscriminately around the islands,” said Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun. A Sabah government article on the problem of plastic waste in MPAs is at

Lessons from French-funded MPA projects in developing nations

The French Global Environment Facility (Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial, or FFEM) has published a review of MPA projects it has supported in developing nations worldwide. An institution of the French government, the FFEM has co-financed projects involving more than 70 MPAs. The review shares lessons learned from the sites, including on MPA design, economic assessment, sustainable financing, alternative livelihoods, and management of fisheries and tourism, among other topics.

The report also uses a unique “compass card” approach to track how each MPA project has met a series of developmental criteria; the resulting scores are illustrated in a round, compass-like chart. “We consider the compass card concept to be a platform that all MPA practitioners should be free to use and adapt to their specific cases,” says Julien Calas, who coordinated the study. FFEM would like to learn of experiences elsewhere in which compass cards have been used and what results they delivered. Feedback can be e-mail to Calas at

The FFEM report is available at

Guidance drafted to apply IUCN categories to MPAs

IUCN has released draft guidelines for improving application of its protected area management categories to the marine environment. The six IUCN categories range from “Strict Nature Reserve” to “Protected Area with Sustainable Use of Natural Resources”, based on the primary management objective of each site.

The draft guidelines feature a table that compares the IUCN categories against various activities that may occur in an MPA. They specifically clarify which IUCN categories are appropriate for fishing and/or collecting activities, and also provide examples of MPAs that fit each IUCN category.

The draft guidelines are open for public comment through December 2010, and are downloadable at Comments on the draft guidelines should be e-mailed to

Journal issue on 100th anniversary of Parks Canada

A new issue of The George Wright Forum is devoted to the 100th anniversary of the Parks Canada agency, including the ongoing development of Canada’s system of National Marine Conservation Areas. The issue (Vol. 27, Number 2) also features an article on Parks Canada’s co-management of multiple national parks with indigenous (First Nation) peoples. The George Wright Forum is the journal of the George Wright Society, an NGO dedicated to the protection and management of cultural and natural parks. The Parks Canada issue is available at

Every two years, the George Wright Society convenes an internatuonal conference on parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. The next one will be held 14-18 March 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana (US). The conference website is