SIF welcomes the President of Sri Lanka to the Vallée de Mai
(Photo courtesy of Mervyn Marie - Nation Newspaper)
The President of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the Vallée de Mai on Praslin today to experience the natural beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. President Rajapaksa was accompanied by Vice President Danny Faure and Minister Mitzy Larue and was welcomed to the Vallee de Mai by the Chairman of SIF, Mr Loustau-Lalanne and the CEO Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley and all of the SIF Vallée de Mai staff.
Dr Fleischer-Dogley accompanied the President on a brief tour of the visitors centre after which they spent some time in the forest. The President was keen to see where the Coco de Mer originated from as he had planted a Coco de Mer nut that morning at the Barbaron Biodiversity centre on Mahé. The President had the opportunity to see both the male and female Coco de Mer trees and a staff at the Vallée de Mai demonstrated the de-husking of a giant Coco de Mer nut. Both Mr Loustau-Lalanne and Dr Fleischer Dogley explained to the President the importance of this forest to the biodiversity of the Seychelles and why it was so unique. The President commemorated his visit by signing in the visitors book at the entrance gate to the forest. When asked if he had enjoyed his experience the President commented that ‘This forest is exceptionally beautiful and I am very impressed with the site.'
Mr Loustau-Lalanne also shared with the President a description of the recent anti-poaching rally that was held at the Vallée de Mai to celebrate World Environment day. The President was interested and pleased that such events were being held and supported by the local community. Furthermore, Vice President Faure spoke to President Rajapaksa about the importance of environmental conservation in the long term development strategy of Seychelles:
"A clean and safe environment is the legacy we will leave for the future generations. Environmental protection will benefit us all and ensure Seychelles' status as a leader in environmental conservation. We are engaged in resolute action both at national and international levels to promote environmental protection and conservation. We put particular emphasis on education, so that our children understand that the decisions and actions we take today will impact on their lives tomorrow," said Vice-President Faure.
The President was then presented with a Coco de Mer nut and a book written by Dr Dogley herself on the history and biology of the Coco de Mer. ‘We are honoured to share this globally important natural world heritage site with a prominent public figure such as the President of Sri Lanka. It was a delight to host him at this unique site and we hope that our token will remind him of this experience, and the Vallée de Mai’ said Dr Fleischer-Dogley.