Press release

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

July 1, 2013

Ministry of Environment and Energy

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

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 Centre 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 Arboretum, 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, symbolising his support and contribution to the country’s  endeavors to conserve and protect our 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 honour 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, amongst others were, exchanges of plants including those with medicinal values between the two countries, exchange of experiences learned in tourism industry and conservation of environment. Sri Lanka has generated a lot of value of coconuts, more can be learned  about the coconut industry. Another area, with potential benefits to Seychelles,  is in the area of restoration of mangroves and wetlands.

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 Centre will have several amenities such as nursery for endemic and endangered species,  seed bank, museum, different themed gardens, Marianne North gallery, herbarium, research laboratory, day spa, restaurant, villa as well as other services and attractions for visitors and locals.


Editor’s Note


  • ·         In June 2012, President James Michel officially opened the Arboretum and planted a Coco de Mer seed.


  • In June 2012, His Excellency Navinchandra Ramgoolam, the Prime Minister of Mauritius, was a Guest of Honour      for last the National Day Celebrations, and  also planted a Coco de Mer seed.
  • ·         In 2013, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, also planted a seed in the Arboretum.