Network of Women in Marine Science

Inspiring Women in Ocean Science and Conservation: Kerstin Henri

Kerstin, a Seychellois/German environmental economist and project manager, has 30 years of experience in coordinating significant donor-funded projects. Her work focuses on protecting the marine environment through initiatives such as sewerage treatment, sanitation, waste management, and ensuring Seychelles’ compliance with international pollution conventions. Noteworthy projects include conservation efforts for Seychelles’ turtles, the Aldabra World Heritage Site, and other vital marine ecosystems.

Kerstin’s contributions extend to being the co-editor of Seychelles’ inaugural National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. She is also a co-author of papers and reports on topics ranging from coral reef conservation to environmental evaluation and restoration costs. As the Director of Nature Seychelles, she has been involved in over a hundred groundbreaking coastal and marine projects over 25 years. Notably, she oversees the Cousin Island Special Reserve which has been hailed as one of the world’s most significant conservation success stories.

Kerstin has also served as a WIOMSA Country Coordinator, actively engaging in regional marine science activities. She also holds the esteemed position of Honorary German Consul to Seychelles and has been recognised with prestigious accolades such as the ‘Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.’

  1. Tell us, what led you to pursue a career in marine/ocean science/conservation?

“I was inspired by Nirmal Shah and wanted to join him in creating a unique and dynamic force for good in conservation

  1. As a marine/ocean professional, what three critical lessons have you learned? Share your insights and experience with others who aspire to become experts in this field.

i.) Conservation without money is just conversation. So much of my work has been securing funds to implement conservation projects and programs that have impact and are sustainable, despite many of our peers turning their noses up at making the effort to secure substantive financing and being content with small, short term activities. ii.) It always seems difficult until you do it. We had many nay-sayers and critics over the years but we stayed the course and achieved great success. iii.) Gender matters: As women we know of the inherent barriers but the other side of the coin is that we don’t have to be like men to succeed. We bring unique perspectives, strengths and skills that men may not necessarily have or find important.

  1. In celebration of International Women’s Day theme “Invest in Women, accelerate progress”, what progress do you envision for women in the Western Indian Ocean region?

Women in Seychelles have made enormous strides in conservation and science. For example, there was a time when there were only a couple of us involved in WIOMSA, now there are many. And I believe it is the same in the region. Women have indeed taken the lead.