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President Rajapaksa plants the King of Palms: the Coco de Mer Tree

July 6, 2013 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

President Mahinda Rajapaksa of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, became the third Head of State to plant a Coco de Mer seed at the Arboretum of the National Biodiversity Centre at Barbarons.

President Rajapaksa was given a brief tour of the center by the Minister responsible for Environment and Energy, Prof. Rolph Payet, where President Rajapaska was presented with information about the Biodiversity Centre since its inception in 1998.They also visited the 20130704-0150_mArboretum, which has an area dedicated to trees which are planted by VVIPs where President Rajapaksa planted the unique Coco de Mer seed.

After the activity, Professor Rolf Payet presented President Mahinda Rajapaksa with a certificate symbolizing his support and contribution to the country’s endeavors to conserve and protect the islands’ rich, diverse, and yet fragile biodiversity. Minister Payet explained that as a Head of State, President Rajapaksa was given the privilege to plant the king of palms: the unique Coco de Mer – an enigma and mystery to scientists.

“It is a great honor to show President Rajapaksa our natural heritage, and the symbol of our unique biodiversity, the Coco de Mer seed. Seychelles is the first in the world for protection of its land territory, with more than half of its land designated as nature reserves. We have much to share with Sri Lanka, especially as we are both island nations with rich biodiversity that are the basis of our sustainable tourism development,” said Minister Payet.

After the ceremony, there were discussions between President Rajapaksa, Professor Payet, and officials from the Biodiversity Centre; topics discussed were, among others: exchanges of plants including those with medicinal values between the two countries, exchange of experiences learned in the tourism industry, and conservation of environment. Sri Lanka has generated a lot of value in coconuts, and more can be learned about the coconut industry. Another area with potential benefit Seychelles is in the area of the restoration of mangroves.

The Biodiversity Centre covers an area of 17 hectares. Its main aim is to preserve the diversity of the rare and endangered species of the fragile ecosystems of Seychelles. Once completed, the center will have several amenities, such as a nursery for endemic and endangered species, a seed bank, museum, different themed gardens, Marianne North gallery, herbarium, research laboratory, day spa, restaurant, and villa, as well as other services and attractions for visitors and locals.

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