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Report

Title
Tree Props up the Project

Objective
Continue to develop and improve our base camp on Curieuse Island and in particular to continue
reducing its environmental impact on the island.

Summary
This achievement contributes to the objective of developing and improving our base camp by
developing the infrastructure. The Bommie roof is one of our main sources of rainwater collection
on camp, and by bringing it back into service it greatly reduces the amount of groundwater drawn
from the reservoir shared with the Dr. House barbeque area. This reduces the competition for often
scarce fresh water resources.

Report
GVI Curieuse is home to both the Island Conservation and Construction programmes. With Curieuse
Island being a national park our ecological conservation work is our bread and butter, and
accordingly it claims most of the limelight. Today however, its a chance to reflect on some of the
regularl construction work going on around base. Our well-equipped kit room has everything a
budding carpenter or electrician may need. Projects range from the smaller scale (shelving and
furniture etc.) to the more substantial such as major building works. Previous volunteers have
helped in the construction of many aspects of camp; fitting windows and doors to the dormitories,
constructing water drainage systems, building worktops for the volunteer kitchen or creating our
well-used rubbish and recycling station to name but a few.

These projects are well thought out and planned to fit around the science schedule, or saved for
when construction volunteers come to the program. Occasionally however, something urgent
springs up and last month the team on Curieuse had to repair the roof of their communal dining
area, the Bommie.

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Early in the afternoon of Monday 24th August Base Manager Alan shimmied up a ladder to check on
the electrics which feed the Bommie lights, a five minute job. From his vantage point something was
instantly obvious - the roof, once as horizontal as the finest Seychellois spirit level, was clearly
sagging in the middle with the main post supporting that section definitely lower than it used to be.
The island had just experienced a few days of uncharacteristically wet weather (98.9mm over 3 days,
during the peak of dry season). Alan recruited Science Officer James and they thought there was an
easy explanation the heavy rain must have caused the post to sink into wet ground. So the plan
was simple and the boys set-to: support the roof, dig out around the post, reinforce the foundation
with a new concrete footing; it will all be done in time for an afternoon cup of tea.

Everything was going to plan, leverage in the correct spot here, a temporary brace there, in no time
the roof was back to the correct height. However, in this process the true reason for the sinking
became apparent the base of the post was rotten and the job was exponentially larger than first
thought.

At the end of last year the Seychelles Forestry department had cleared back a large number of
Takamaka trees from the west side of camp, creating space for the construction of two new
volunteer dormitories. From this, there were still a number of substantial pieces of good quality hard
wood timber on site, and plenty cement from the construction projects.

A replacement post was selected against some stringent
criteria long (at least 390cm), straight, moveable by two
people (the rest of the staff and volunteers were out
conducting field work). The new post was fitted with a
substantial foundation to ensure its strength. The team
hand mixed around 300kg of concrete to create a
foundation along with another 100kg of rocks for extra
support. The post and roof was immediately tested with
the wettest week of the year (another 469.4mm) and is
clearly fit for the job, but one things for sure nothing
ever takes five minutes on Curieuse!

All of this, and there was not a construction volunteer in
sight. However, there are plenty of future opportunities
for construction volunteers to help with similar projects.
Expansion from a 12 to 18 capacity camp means a second
new dormitory is currently under construction. A roof will
be fitted within the next month followed by windows and doors after that. A new double volunteer
shower block is under way, the rainwater harvesting system is ready to be upgraded and there are
even plans to rebuild one of our two boats. So if youre handy with a hammer, or would like to learn
some new skills then there is still plenty to help out with on Curieuse.

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