Ministry warns against tree felling, palm heart poaching


The announcement follows the fining of an undisclosed five-star hotel R10,000 for clearing coconut trees from its property without permission, and comes at a time when the ministry says it is investigating a worrying increase in the theft of palm hearts from live coconut trees around North Mahe.

Officials say the hearts of the coconut trees are being cut out of the palms while they are still standing, so that thefts go unnoticed until the trees wilt and die later.

The poachers are allegedly targeting the tourism trade in particular, and the ministry said it is making a special appeal to hotels, restaurants and others in the catering business to be on the lookout for palmistes which may have been poached from live palms, stolen from trees that have been cut down illegally or otherwise unlawfully obtained.

“Obtaining the required permit will prevent your palmistes from being mistaken for those being stolen and cut out of live trees,” principal forestry officer of Forests and National Parks Paul Louis-Marie said. Louis-Marie also clarified the hotel that was fined had not been poaching, but was clearing its property for a replanting scheme.

“The hotel had good intentions and was removing the palms for ecological reasons,” Louis-Marie explained, “but it still required the necessary permits and the ministry is, as everyone knows by now, cracking down on environmental offences so that people remain constantly aware of the harm they can cause the environment by their actions.”

Louis-Marie stated that there has also been an increase in the poaching of leaves in South Mahe, with species like palmiste millionnaire and latanier feuille, the latter being used for roof thatching, being targeted.

Given that the palms are endemic and protected under the Breadfruit and Other Trees Protection Act, a permit should accompany all transactions with these species, he said.

The ministry said restaurant and hotel owners should be on the lookout for poached palmistes as well as latanier leaves when buying such products, as any breach of regulation could result in prosecution.

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