The picturesque Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve is a 19.5-hectare area of palm forest on the island of Praslin; it has been in existence since prehistoric times and remains largely unchanged.
Home to the world's largest population of coco de mer - a native palm species which bears the biggest seed in the plant kingdom - the forest also has five other endemic palms and a multitude of fauna species.
A myriad of red, green and brown leaves, the mature palm forest creates a breathtaking scene with great ecological significance. Formed millions of years ago by biological and geological processes, the Vallée de Mai is nothing short of a living laboratory. It paints a picture of how other tropical areas would have looked before the growth of more advanced plant families. In fact, it's considered to be of such major significance that it has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Vallée de Mai is the only place in Seychelles where six species of palm tree grow together, forming a dense forest. Broadleaf trees and Pandanus screw palms provide a unique ecosystem, with ecological processes including seed dispersal, nutrient cycling and pollination that can't be found anywhere else in the world. Other palm species include millionaire's salad, thief palm, stilt palm, latanier millepattes and latanier palm.
The forest is home to many endemic species, such as the rare black parrot that is completely dependent on the Vallée de Mai and can only be found on Praslin Island; three native species of bronze gecko; bulbuls; endemic blue pigeons; Seychelles skinks; sunbirds; tiger chameleons; swiftlets; burrowing skinks; day geckos; tree frogs; caecilians; freshwater fish and several invertebrates.
The Vallée de Mai lies within the 300-hectare Praslin National Park and the World Heritage Committee has recommended extending the UNESCO World Heritage Site status to include the rest of the park, providing a buffer zone to ensure the forest's unique ecosystem will continue to function successfully in years to come. Thanks to its status, legislation protects the nature reserve. A management plan was put in place in 2002 and this is overseen by the Seychelles Islands Foundation, which is a public trust. The most significant threat is said to be fire and plans are in place should any such emergency arise.
Money raised through tourism is managed by the public trust and this contributes towards the management and protection of the reserve. A key priority is to collect and plant the palm seeds before people can steal them, as this could threaten future regeneration. The trust is also responsible for reducing the threat of invasive species to the endemic fauna and flora and protecting against disease and pests.
Vallée de Mai is one of the great wonders of the natural world and it is well worth a visit- there is nowhere else quite like it! For a one of a kind holiday in a one of a kind destination, Savoy is a 5* luxury hotel in Seychelles… We look forward to welcoming you to our tropical paradise.