A large number of reefs within the inner granitic islands of the archipelago of Seychelles could be entirely lost, unless concerted action is taken soon to control crown of thorns, warns Dr. Udo Englhardt, the expert on on the management of crown of thorns in a...
Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve
Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve (“May Valley”) is a nature park and UNESCO World Heritage Site on the island of Praslin, Seychelles. It is a 19.5 ha area of palm forest which remains largely unchanged since prehistoric times. The island of Praslin consists of a well-preserved palm forest consisting of flagship species of endemic coco de mer, as well as five other endemic palms. Coco de Mer or sea coconut is endemic to the islands of Praslin and Curieuse in Seychelles. It has become extinct in other parts of the world. The male flowers continue to produce pollen over a ten-year period. The fruit takes 6–7 years to mature and a further two years to germinate. Coco de mer is the largest seed in the plant kingdom weighing up to 42 kilograms. The palms can grow to the height of 25–34 metres.
The property is protected under national legislation and is managed by the Seychelles Islands Foundation, a public trust. The management adopted a management plan in 2002. Fire is the major hazard to the property. Tourism managed by the public trust, makes a significant financial contribution to the protection and management of the property. Illegal removal of the seeds is a serious problem that affects future regeneration. The seeds should be collected and planted before they are stolen and sold.
The fruits are sold at a price ranging between €200 and €600. Officially around 1,000 units are sold each year, but through poaching and theft the real number is larger.
The present conservation measures aim to weed out invasive plant species, as well as those introduced by humans such as coffee, pineapple, and ornamental palms and to consistently ensure the original character of the valley as home to the Coco de Mer.
Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve is a scenically attractive area with a distinctive natural beauty. The natural beauty and near-natural state of the Vallée de Mai are of great interest, even to those visitors who are not fully aware of the ecological significance of the forest. The reserve is an outstanding example of an earlier and major stage in the evolutionary history of the world’s flora.