A community representative signs for the forest eco-system conservation project in Savai’i
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 18 APRIL 2017: Eight communities in Savai’i have decided to continue forest conservation and have agreed to five year management plans (2017-2022) for three Community Conservation Areas. The areas cover and protect a total area of 14700 ha of native forests and include water catchment areas, wetlands, lava flow areas and important lowland forests.
Recently, the village leaders formally agreed and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry for Natural Resources and Environment. The management plans incorporate in the districts of Gataivai, Matautu and Taga.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will facilitate the new management plans in partnership with the Samoa Ministry for Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and the Samoa Conservation Society. The management plans were developed through assessments and community consultations over a 12 month period. The plans include additional areas of approximately 15 to 20 hectares in the lowlands each which should be conserved.
FAO Forest and Protected Area Management Samoa Project Coordinator, Lemalu Sami Lemalu explained. “Village committees were very supportive of implementing the high priority activities as specified in the management plans with the assistance of Samoa Conservation Society, MNRE and the project team.”
“The implementation of priority activities like boundary survey and demarcation for protected lowland forests, investments for eco-tourism and eco-system restorations in the water catchment areas will start immediately,” said Lemalu.
Since 2012, FAO worked with the Government of Samoa to establish Community Conservation Areas in the highlands of these villages under the Forest Protection and Management project. These conservation areas were established to preserve the biodiversity and maintain the ecosystem services of intact forest protected areas. The introduction of organic farming, improved farming methods and sustainable land management with the aim to increase the income of the local population and prevent further eco-system degradation.
Establishing conservation areas in the Pacific
The activities are supported by the Global Environment Facility – Pacific Alliance for Sustainability – through the Forest and Protected Area Management project. Its global environmental objective is to strengthen biodiversity conservation and reduce forest land degradation. The FAO/GEF Forestry and Protected Area Management project covers Fiji, Niue, Samoa and Vanuatu.