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North Island 'Noah's Ark Project'

North Island • Seychelles

Lying some 30km from the main island of Mahé, Ile du Nord, or North Island, enjoys private isolation within the Inner Island group of the Seychelles. Luminous white beaches cosset a tropical interior of coconut palms and takamaka trees cradled between three granite outcrops, 110m to 180m in height, whose polished grey ramparts rise from the white sands and filigree reefs of the azure ocean.

Amid this tropical paradise, you'll find an astonishing example of a sustainable ecologically-sensitive utilization of a precious natural treasure. The ecotourism development aims at providing the very best in privacy, location, accommodation, services, facilities and experience, yet at the same time enables for a comprehensive rehabilitation and conservation plan known as the 'Noah's Ark Project'.

The Noah's Ark Project - ten years in the making - has taken natural habitats, long neglected, and rehabilitated them so that endangered Seychelles fauna and flora could be reintroduced and given a place to grow and thrive. Your stay on North Island supports the ongoing conservation work, and spending time with the Environmental Team will allow you to marvel at the full scope of what has been done in order to create a true Noah's Ark in the Indian Ocean.

  • North Island Turtle Hatchlings ©Dana Allen
  • North Island Luxury ©Mike Myers

 


'Noah's Ark'

North Island is based on the belief that in today’s modern world we are able – given the right vision, resources and commitment – to turn back time and reverse conservation losses such as local extinctions. The 210-hectare island with its fertile soils and freshwater supply has a long history of abuse at the hands of man. It was ultimately abandoned as a commercial farm in 1976 and left to slide into environment ruin. Chief culprits were alien plants such as Lantana and the introduced European black rat. Some 60% of the surface area of the Island was covered by alien vegetation, while the predatory rats wreaked havoc on predator-naïve ground-nesting birds. As a result, at the time of our involvement in 1997 North Island was a shadow of its former self; depleted, environmentally polluted and of very little conservation value. Recognising the opportunity to contribute and to marry conservation and ecotourism we immediately embraced a comprehensive rehabilitation and conservation plan for the island that was dubbed “the Noah’s Ark Project. The project encompasses three elements:”

Vegetation Rehabilitation and Alien Species Eradication

The first steps were to begin vegetation rehabilitation and eradicate problem animals, resulting in the eradication of European black rats in September 2005 (the largest tropical island in the world to have achieved this) and a focused clearing of alien plant species. Another important element of the project was the establishment of the largest private plant nursery in the Seychelles and the planting of over 100.000 indigenous seedlings provided the foundation for recovery.

Reintroduction of Endangered Species

The first reintroduction of Aldabra giant tortoises supplemented the existing population and provided a natural grazing element to the ecosystem. The tortoise reintroduction was followed by the introduction of 30 Seychelles white-eyes in 2007. Partly as a result of these efforts the species has since been down-listed from Critically Endangered to Endangered and continues to thrive on North Island. The rehabilitation of the marsh also allowed for the 2008 introduction of black mud terrapins, another reptilian endemic. A number of other endemic species, such as the Seychelles blue pigeon, have recolonised the island without human assistance. Recent years have also seen the re-establishment of breeding populations of wedge-tailed shearwaters and white-tailed tropicbirds.

Ongoing Monitoring

Ongoing monitoring continues in cooperation with NGOs like the Island Conservation Society and in support of the Government’s management programme to safeguard the survival of the country’s native species. This monitoring includes the marine environment as well. Healthy populations of green and hawksbill turtles use the island as a nesting ground and the monitoring programme includes detailed investigation into their breeding ecology. North Island is also a partner in the Seychelles National Reef Monitoring Programme, as well as the Whale Shark Research Programme which comprises the monitoring of these iconic large fish.

  • North Island Lounge ©AH
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  • North Island Cuisine AH

North Island Lodge

The true essence of North Island is a rare encounter that is in harmony with the environment – one that touches and inspires the lives of all who walk her beaches, dive her waters and contemplate her beauty. On this floating paradise, 11 guest villas have been built from local materials reaped from the rehabilitation process, where luxury and simplicity mingle to form a signature architectural style called ‘barefoot luxury'. Each villa is constructed to create a sensorial experience in surroundings of understated elegance and providing a unique atmosphere and distinct flavour of the Seychelles. Each villa has a study or second bedroom, creating the perfect space for children. All the villas are built directly on the eastern beach.

A lounge, dining room and library, scenically located health spa and gym, world-class dive centre, and a rim-flow swimming pool are all built into a granitic outcrop. A sunset bar and restaurant are tucked away on the western beach of the island. Activities include mountain biking, gym, guided walks, snorkelling, fishing, boating, sea kayaking, and scuba diving. North Island has created a signature style that combines natural beauty with sheer luxury, a rare experience in harmony with the environment.

  • North Island Beach ©AH

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