Crowd funding for Marine Protected Area management

Nature Seychelles
Published: 24 July 2017
Last edited: 29 March 2019
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In April 2014 an online crowdfunding campaign via Indiegogo was initiated to finance the installation of a modern, stand-alone 5 kw photovoltaic system on Cousin Island Special Reserve. Within 50 days £25,000 were raised to cover the costs. The solar system was installed in 2015 and makes the energy supply of the island independent from fossil fuels and reduces emissions by approx. 15 tonnes of CO² per year, thus making the management and running of the MPA more sustainable.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Coastal forest
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Renewable energies
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of infrastructure
Sustainable development goals
SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources


Cousin Island, Seychelles


The Cousin Island Special Reserve station was the first in the Seychelles to run entirely on solar energy. After several upgrades the initial system failed entirely after 7 years of operation in the harsh climate. The reserve management was forced to revert temporarily to fossil fuel for power generation, which implied high financial and environmental costs (buying and transporting fuel, and contamination). The generation of financial resources to install a new modern and robust Photovoltaic Solar Power system on Cousin Island has been the major challenge.  


Nature Seychelles staff, students, researchers, volunteers, visitors to the island

How do the building blocks interact?

The private sector involvement contributed substantially to the success of the project. The crowdfunding was the first step and constituted an essential precondition for its implementation. By generating financial resources the installation of the Photovoltaic Solar Power system on Cousin Island could be realized.

Using renewable energy resulted in achieving independency from fossil fuels (diesel) that was previously used for the generator that provided electricity.  Savings made are invested back into the maintenance of the nature reserve and for securing a budget for maintenance.


The solar power system saves the NGO Nature Seychelles, who manages the Cousin Island Speical reserve, approximately 750 USD per month in in direct transportation costs and fuel used for running a generator, which itself needs regular maintenance, and replacement every two years. Expensive long distance fuel transportation by boat and storage on the island is not necessary anymore, which also diminishes the risk of contamination in the nature reserve. In its first year, carbon emissions on Cousin Island were reduced by around 15 tonnes already. This also allows Nature Seychelles to buy fewer carbon credits on the international market which it does regularly to ensure that Cousin remains the world’s first carbon neutral nature reserve. These savings are used for research, staff, island maintenance, boat repairs, and other things, thereby improving management of the reserve.


Half a century ago Cousin Island was purchased by BirdLife International (then ICBP), then declared a Nature Reserve by the Seychelles Government. The world’s first internationally owned nature reserve and first island purchased to save one species - the Seychelle warbler. Today the warbler numbers thousands on several islands - the first species ever downgraded from Critically Endangered to Least Threatened on the IUCN Red List purely through conservation action.  

Part of the Reserve's success goes back to its energy management: “The government has been putting a lot of emphasis on renewable energy,” Minister for Environment, Dogley said after he launched the solar installation.  “And we now have Cousin running on one hundred percent renewable energy.” The minister said he hopes that this type of technology can be applied to other islands in the Seychelles thus ensuring the protection of the environment which the country and its people are so dependent on, and which is cherished by those who visit the Seychelles.

“This is a historic moment,” Dr Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles CEO says. “In the year 2000, Cousin became the first Island to be fully powered by solar. Ten years later we were the first nature reserve in the world to become carbon neutral. Fifteen years later, we now have a second generation PV solar system. The interesting thing is how we finally got it funded after we had gone from pillar to post trying to secure financing for this project.”


Tim Kirkpatrick, of Climate Caring, partnered with Nature Seychelles, took on the task of the online campaign via Indiegogo, a crowd funding firm. Kirkpatrick, an electrical engineer, also installed the solar system after having worked for months on sourcing and importing the right parts from several countries. “For the first time in a year I can sit here (in front of the Field Station on Cousin), have a cup of coffee and smile knowing that what we have achieved is remarkable.” Kirkpatrick said on the day the work was completed, as he looked over at the solar panels glistening in the bright afternoon sun. "I believe we have raised awareness on climate change, and not just in Seychelles.”

Nature Seychelles staff and volunteers on Cousin were all sunny smiles the morning after the solar power was turned on, happy to be able to have a fan on all night and charge their electrical gadgets. Normally, the generator was switched on for one hour in the morning, another hour around lunch time and six hours in the evening.

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Nirmal Shah Nature Seychelles

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Nature Seychelles