Vallée De Mai is one of the world’s smallest natural World Heritage sites. Remnant of the ancient palm forests on Praslin, the Vallée de Mai contains the largest intact forest of the endemic coco de mer palms, Lodoicea maldivica, in Seychelles.
For more than a hundred years requests were made to the authorities in Seychelles to take action to preserve the area that became known as Vallée de Mai. At times misguided but good intentions to "brighten up" the valley with alien plants posed serious threats to the ecosystem. At other times fires were started in adjacent forest areas in an attempt to destroy the palms to ensure a permanent high value of the coco de mer nuts.
In 1948 the Vallée de Mai was acquired by the government in order to protect the water catchments area for the island. Eighteen years later the Vallée de Mai was declared a nature reserve and in 1983 became a World Heritage Site. Management of this important reserve passed to the Seychelles Islands Foundation in 1989.
Protection and management of the Vallée de Mai is of vital importance to the Foundation not only to fulfill its World Heritage obligations but also because the income raised from entrance fees is essential for the day to day running of Aldabra. Research into the structure and biology of the Vallée de Mai and its unique palm forests is a priority for the Foundation.