Private property owners invited to help in conserving the coco de mer | 10 August 2020
Every Seychellois who has an available plot of land 10m x 10m is now eligible to plant a coco de mer tree in his courtyard.
This was announced by Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, the chief executive of the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) and Marie-May Muzungaile, director general of the biodiversity conservation and management division within the Ministry of Environment Energy and Climate Change (MEECC).
Considered as a national treasure, Seychellois will be able to obtain and plant viable coco de mer nuts in a designated and approved location. It is to be noted that a maximum of five nuts can be planted per individual and that there are specific criteria and requirements to be eligible to plant these precious seeds. A processing fee of R500 will also apply.
How will it work?
In order to facilitate this process, the MEECC and SIF have developed a criteria of requirements for the site visits to the designated planting area and prepared a form to capture all details of the request (name of property owner/agent, address, contact details, parcel number, number of viable nuts requested).
The person who is interested to plant a coco de mer tree will have to let SIF know. “First a site visit will be conducted by SIF to ensure that the area has sufficient space and the ideal soil type for the palm. If the area meets the criteria, SIF will make provision to collect up to a maximum number of five viable nuts requested from Vallée de Mai to be planted. SIF will then liaise with MEECC to register the individual request to plant coco de mer nuts as a new producer. Subsequently SIF will prepare a follow up letter detailing the terms and conditions to the new producer. The letter will also include the actions if the coco de mer nut fails to sprout after six months. These steps involves the new producer informing SIF of the failed nut, digging up the nut and returning it to SIF, where it will be checked and identified to ensure it is the same nut. If all is satisfactory, SIF will replace the previously planted nut with a new viable one. SIF will always provide a representative when planting is being conducted. There is a processing fee of R500 for each request.”
Mrs Muzungaile added that “currently, at the MEECC, there are already some procedures that apply for the persons who want to plant coco de mer. With this programme the MEECC is delegating some work to SIF. But the registration part still stays with the MEECC. SIF will take the responsibility to make sure that all the information about the individual and the area where the coco de mer will be planted are correct. It is important for the person to understand to take full responsibility for the tree as it is a protected tree and all security should be taken. Under the Coco de mer decree, anyone who has a coco de mer plant has to be registered.”
Dr Fleischer-Dogley explained that for the last thirty years, SIF has been protecting Vallée de Mai. “We made a huge effort to ensure that the trees at Vallée de Mai are healthy. The last five we also introduced a regeneration programme for the forest and we registered quite a number of trees that we are doing follow-up. We feel that this is not sufficient and coco de mer plants should not be restricted to Vallée de Mai, Curieuse, etc… In the past coco de mer trees were planted in the south and now we want the population to take part in the conservation of this species.”
Did the latest economic ventures affect the production of coco de mer? Dr Fleischer-Dogley noted that “production at Vallée de Mai and Fond Ferdinand have not been affected. Now there is more demand on the coconuts for sure.”
Mrs Muzungaile added that the people who are involved in the economic ventures involving coco de mer do not get their coconuts only at Vallée de Mai. “Each entrepreneur has a different place where they get their coconuts and they are mindful about the number they can use. All agencies who are managing the production of coconuts regulate the quantity of coconut on the market. We are trying our best to maintain a healthy balance between production and supply”.