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History of Partnership

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The partnership between ETH Zurich and Seychelles was initiated by Karl Fleischmann. He worked between 1986 and 1988 at the Seychelles Polytechnic on Mahe as a biology teacher, and thereafter completed between 1992 and 1997 his PhD on invasive alien plants in Seychelles at the Geobotanical Institute of ETH Zurich (first under the supervision of Prof. Karl-Ulrich Kramer, and after Prof. Kramer passed away under the supervision of Prof. Frank Kloetzli and as a member of the professorship of Prof. Peter Edwards).


In October 1998 the annual institute excursion brought 15 members of the Geobotanical Institute to the Seychelles. As a result of this excursion it was decided to develop a research programme in the Seychelles. Between 1999 and 2000, the first two Master students completed their theses about a vegetation monitoring system for Cousin and Cousine island reserves in collaboration with the NGO, Nature Seychelles. Karl Fleischmann coordinated the research programme until 2008 when he accepted a lecturership appointment at Mwenge University College of Education in Moshi (Tanzania).


From 2002 to 2005 two PhD students - Eva Schumacher and Christoph Kueffer - represented ETH in Seychelles as employees of the Forests and National Parks Section of the Seychelles Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. In 2008, Christoph Kueffer took over the full responsibility for the research programme at ETH. From 2003 to 2007, he also coordinated, through the project platform seed sustainability, seven student projects on sustainable tourism as part of the research partnership and in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Transport, Seychelles Tourism Board, and the local hotel industry. In 2007 Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury started his post-doctoral research in Seychelles (with affiliations first with ETH, then Aarhus University, and currently TU Darmstadt), and since then he fosters the partnership through his continuous research, applied conservation work, and presence in Seychelles. In 2014 Karl Fleischmann returned to Seychelles as senior lecturer at the University of Seychelles where he contributes to the formal training of future plant ecologists and conservationists in the country.


The Seychelles Ministries of Environment and Tourism and all major conservation NGOs have been actively involved in all projects in a variety of functions (see Collaborations). With the formation of the NGO, Plant Conservation Action group (PCA) in 2002, the Seychelles-ETH partnership had a central local contact point in Seychelles who drives and coordinates much of the plant-related research and conservation in the country. Through the work on the conservation of the Coco-de-Mer palm and the management of the UNESCO world heritage site Vallee de Mai, Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF) is currently another key partner. The fact that Prof. Peter Edwards is a trustee of SIF illustrates the close and mutually beneficial relationship between individuals and organisations in the Seychelles-ETH partnership.

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