Nature Is Our Best Antiviral
Many countries are already demonstrating how we can build stronger bonds between nature, our economy, and our health. And the Seychelles’ recent marine-protection initiative offers hope that if every country, no matter how small, does its part, the planet can be safer and more prosperous for all of us – just as nature promises.
WASHINGTON, DC – The Seychelles, a string of 115 verdant, rocky islands in the Indian Ocean, recently announced – in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic – that it would protect 30% of its glittering turquoise waters from commercial use.
Safeguarding some 410,000 square kilometers (158,000 square miles) of the sea will benefit wildlife on the shore and in the water, including 100,000 giant tortoises and some of the world’s last pristine coral reefs. But, beyond helping such species, establishing the new Marine Protected Areas – which was made possible through an innovative debt-swap deal – will also bolster the health, wellbeing, and prosperity of the Seychellois, who number under 100,000 but cater to more than 350,000 visitors each year.
Currently hosting only a handful of tourists stranded by the pandemic, the country is under a lockdown aimed at preventing the further spread of the virus. President Danny Faure’s decision to press ahead with this protection effort, even as his country deals with a public-health emergency, serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of nature to people’s physical and economic wellbeing – and not just in the Seychelles.