Digital surveillance: Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority to use EarthRanger for protecting national reserves

The SPGA has already started to set up some components that will link up with the EarthRanger system at the newly renovated Anse Major trail. (Nature Trail in Seychelles)

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(Seychelles News Agency) – The Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SPGA) has taken steps to revolutionise its operation by implementing a new digital system covering the different protected areas it manages.

The chief executive of the SPGA, Allen Cedras, said that Authority has partnered with a Kenya-based organisation as it begins to make use of the EarthRanger. A team from the SPGA is attending an EarthRanger training in Kenya. 

“It will help us in general in terms of coastal surveillance, terrestrial surveillance, and with all of our marine parks. It can be used broadly by the Seychelles Fisheries Authority as well as with the Maritime Spatial Plan. We are now concentrating on creating the profiles of our parks as well as preparing our infrastructures for full implementation in 2024,” explained Cedras.

He told SNA recently that the SPGA has already visited 51 Degrees, EarthRanger‘s partner in Nairobi, Kenya, which is supporting them with this project, where they had the chance to gain in-depth insight into how the software works. It is a real-time software solution from the Allen Institute in the United States.

With the implementation of EarthRanger, which comes with another software, Skylight, the SPGA will become the first organisation in the island nation to use such technology.

This software solution aids protected area managers, ecologists, and wildlife biologists in making more informed operational decisions for wildlife conservation. The software collects, integrates, and displays all historical and real-time data available from a protected area – including wildlife, ranger patrols, spatial data, and observed threats.

A team from the SPGA attending an EarthRanger training in Kenya. (Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority) Photo License: CC-BY 

Among its many functions, EarthRanger can be used for security operations with a visualisation capability that allows managers to gain a real-time, in-depth understanding of activities related to poaching and other threats, as well as for monitoring natural habitats—including wildlife, forests, and other landscapes—through sensors, ranger observations, and field data to effectively manage these conservation areas.

Some of the key benefits and functions of EarthRanger include limited real-time alerts and access to data as well as enhanced wildlife habitat protection.

The Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority is responsible for the management of marine and terrestrial national parks with associated trails and gardens in Seychelles, which are 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.

“We will use the software to collect all our operations data regarding our boats, boats that visit our marine parks, the frequency of their visits, receive real-time images through cameras connected to the system, the number of visitors to our sites, capture poaching incidents as well as collecting scientific data for our monitoring,” said Cedras.

He added that a mini command centre will be set up at Perseverance, next to the capital Victoria, which will connect all its stations.

“We are prioritising and will start with all our marine parks, but in the second phase, we will concentrate on terrestrial parks, where we will set up sensors; these are very crucial for us in terms of forest fires, as we need to protect our ecosystems.”

There are two types of sensors being used: one type to detect fires and another to detect people visiting different sites.

SPGA has already started to set up some components that will link up with the EarthRanger system at the newly renovated Anse Major trail. There is a camera at the entrance of the trail, which will provide information on persons going in and exiting the trail.

The implementation of the EarthRanger and Skylight software by the SPGA is being funded by the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). 

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