A Seychellois craftsman is making art out of invasive creepers that the authorities are trying to control so they don’t disrupt the island’s natural ecosystem. Eve Breithaupt of Port Glaud, a district on the western side Mahe, the main island, said instead of just destroying the creepers, she collects and molds them into valuable objects like baskets, mirror frames, and lampshade which are commonly seen in hotel suites. Breithaupt uses all kind of creepers that grow in lowland areas close to her house, and she said that she has to uproot the whole plant to be able to use it in her craft.
Alien invasive creepers have been identified as a threat to the ecosystems and natural areas of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the Western Indian Ocean. They are common in all habitats of the island nation and the highland forests. Recently they have expanded in lowland areas, and some of these species have started to invade the natural areas. As a result, the Ministry of Environment, Energy, Climate Change in collaboration with the Seychelles National Parks Authority have embarked on a five-year campaign to control the creepers especially the three more aggressive ones, namely the trumpet, devil’s ivy and merremia.
“Today the government is throwing a lot of money just to destroy alien invasive creepers in certain areas when they can encourage people to use it in craftsmanship,” said Breithaupt. She continued, “If we teach people how to use it to make a craft, it could be another way to control its propagation.”
“The texture of dry creepers is the same as rattan and bamboo, which is used to create raffia window. It is very flexible and malleable,” said the local craftsman, “Everything with the creepers can be used in the creation of art, Breithaupt said, “ including its roots and leaves.”