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Tropical Island Recovery: Cousine Island, Seychelles

ISBN: 978-1-4443-2742-7
260 pages
April 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Tropical Island Recovery: Cousine Island, Seychelles (1444327429) cover image
Tropical island species and ecosystems are threatened worldwide as a result of increasing human pressure.  Yet some of these islands also lend themselves to restoration, as they are physically defined units that can be given focused attention, as long as resources are available and clear conservation targets are set.  Cousine Island, Seychelles, is a tropical island that has received such intensive restoration.  From a highly degraded island in the 1960s, the island has now been restored to what is believed to be a semblance of the natural state.  All alien vertebrates have been eradicated, as have 25 invasive alien plants.  Cultivated plants are now confined to one small section of the island.  Poaching of nesting marine turtles has been stopped, leading to an increase in turtle breeding numbers.  The shearwater population has increased in size with poaching activities under control.  The Sooty tern has also returned to the island to breed.  The coastal plateau has been restored with over 2500 indigenous shrubs and trees, which have now grown into a forest carpet. There are strict quarantine procedures on the island, keeping it free of rats, mice, various alien invertebrates and potentially invasive alien plants.  Three threatened Seychelles endemic land birds (Seychelles warbler, Seychelles magpie robin and Seychelles white-eye) have been introduced and are thriving, with these introductions contributing to both the magpie robin and the white-eye being downgraded from CR to EN (the warbler remains at VU).  Ecotourism, and nature conservation for the local inhabitants, have been introduced in a way that does not reduce the improved compositional, structural and functional biodiversity of the island.  The result of the restoration effort appears to be sustainable in the long term, although challenges still remain, especially with regards to adequate clean water and a non-polluting power supply on the island.  Cousine is thus paving the way in the art and science of tropical island restoration as a legacy for future generations.

There is no other book available on this case study.  The need for the book arises from the fact that here is a positive note for conservation in these times of so much negative news on the state of our environment.  More importantly, the book shows how such restoration should be done, and is therefore a model for many other islands around the world.  The book has many illustrations so as to give the book wide appeal and literally to show what can done in terms of restoration.  All this is based on much scientific detail, including many new data.  The aim is, by way of example, to demonstrate how practical restoration, based on sound scientific research, can be carried out for the betterment of ecological integrity and ecosystem health.

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Foreword by Sir James Mancham

Acknowledgements

Cousine Island in a world context

Cousine as a Seychelles island

Cousine Island’s conservation significance in a nutshell

How humans nearly pushed Cousine past the tipping point

The changing seasons

The lie of the land

Cousine's rocks, soils and sand

The moody sea

Cousine's green carpet

Cousine's woody cloak

Cousine's vegetation reprieve

Sponges, corals and the great bleaching event

Life in the shallow sea: from shells to urchins

Between sea and land: a variety of crabs

Ecological webmasters: terrestrial invertebrates

A rich tapestry of fish life

Cousine as a haven for turtles

Of tortoises, lizards and snakes

Overcoming the extinction of experience: sea bird haven

Aquatic and shore birds

A truly successful story: endemic land birds

The welcome and the unwelcome: vagrant and alien birds

Visiting mammals to Cousine

Cousine Island in the world today, and its future

Scientific summary

List of species recorded on and around Cousine

Glossary

Bibliography

Photographic and artwork credits

About the authors

Index

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Michael Samways is Professor and Chair of the Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Peter Hitchins was Cousine Island Manager 1995-2001, and Conservation Advisor to the Island 2002-2004.

Orty Bourquin was Conservation Consultant to Cousine Island during instigation of the Island’s Management Plan.

Jock Henwood has been Cousine Island Manager, 2002-present.

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"This is an interesting, well-done, well-illustrated (numerous excellent color photographs) book should interest a wide audience including ecologists, conservationists, ecotourists, and readers interested in the natural history of tropical islands. " (CHOICE, January 2011)

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