Conserving the islands since 2001...
In late 2000, a small group of committed individuals met to discuss the absence of any serious conservation in the outer islands of Seychelles. Aldabra had been declared a World Heritage Site and was well managed by Seychelles Islands Foundation. However, the islands and atolls between Mahe and Aldabra had been heavily exploited for nearly two centuries and their fragile environments were heavily degraded. A meeting was arranged with Islands Development Company (IDC), managers of the Government-owned outer islands and common ground was quickly established. The outer islands had been heavily exploited for copra but the industry was virtually dead. The future lay in managing the islands sustainably and generating the funds to do this through ecotourism and international conservation partnerships.
On 10 April 2001, Island Conservation Society was legally declared as an NGO under the Registration of Associations Act of Seychelles. The founding trustees were Adrian Skerrett (Chairman), Glenny Savy (Vice Chairman), Gerard Rocamora and Rolph Payet. An MoU between IDC and ICS was drawn up and signed, later to replaced by a formal agreement endorsed by the Ministry of Environment of Seychelles. This agreement establishes a long-term basis for cooperation and assistance between the parties to conserve, restore and enhance island ecosystems and their associated marine environment. Each party remains independent, has its respective responsibilities, but recognises the need to coordinate as a local partnership for the successful delivery of conservation programmes.
In late 2002, Adrian Skerrett met with Royal Society for Wildlife Trusts (RSWT) of UK, owners of Aride Island, the largest nature reserve of the granitic islands of Seychelles. Adrian had acted as Executive Officer for RSWT since 1981. On behalf of ICS he proposed that ICS should take over management of Aride. Despite being such a young organisation, he convinced RSWT that ICS had the expertise to manage and safeguard the island. In October 2003, RSWT agreed to a trial management of Aride by ICS with immediate effect. In 2004, a three-year lease was signed, with RSWT setting a long list of conservation and management targets to be achieved by ICS. In 2007, after successful completion of these targets, the freehold was granted to Island Conservation Society UK, a UK Registered Charity established by ICS trustees and the Cadbury family of UK.
Commencing in 2005, ICS successfully implemented the first project in Seychelles funded by the Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial with a grant of €400,000 and a total budget €1,000,000. Under the project, led by Gerard Rocamora, major achievements included the eradication of rats on North, Conception, Ile aux Rats and several islands of Cosmoledo Atoll and the eradication of cats and Barn Owls on North. The Endangered Seychelles White-eye was introduced to North and Seychelles Black Mud Terrapin was introduced to both North and Aride. Habitats were restored with thousands of native trees panted, alien species removed and important Management Plans were produced. ICS has continued to develop major conservation projects, produce books and above all manage some of the most important islands of Seychelles .