New Zealand Defence Force helps Savaii Biodiversity Survey

aprt of the Sinaloa Falls, Tuasivi Ridge, Savai'i Island.

APIA: 29 May 2012: The blades of a helicopter flying across may be heard often over Upolu and Savaii this week during the 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations of Samoa.

When flying over Savaii, the New Zealand Defence Force helicopters will be providing support for the BIORAP, the Rapid Biological Survey of the plants, birds and animals of the cloud forest.

In taking advantage of this opportunity the helicopter will also make a second trip to Nu’ulua Island (Aleipata Group) taking staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to conduct a monitoring assessment of whether rats are present or absent on the island since the operation in 2009.

Three prior attempts to go to the island via boat was not possible due to rough seas and this is the only chance to do this follow-up work effectively for the Restoration of Nu’utele and Nu’ulua Islands (Aleipata Group), of Samoa through the management of invasive alien species.

The Ministry of Natural Resources sought the support for the use of the helicopter to assist the BIORAP, as the cloud forests of Samoa are an isolated environment that have provided logistical challenges for the BIORAP team.

The findings of the BIORAP will help strengthen the ability of both the MNRE and the communities in Savaii to develop co-management approaches for the planning and long-term management of cloud forests.

“We would like to thank the New Zealand Defence Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the New Zealand High Commission for their willing support with this project,” said Taule’ale’ausumai Laavasa Malua, Chief Executive Officer of MNRE.

“Their schedule ranges from helping to transport teams, supplies to the base camp as well as conducting a reconnaissance of the cloud forest. This support is immense and helps reduce the logistical challenges we have faced with this project.”

The New Zealand Defence Force is one of many partners that have come together to support the BIORAP project.

The Ministry for Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), the local community and villages on Savaii with customary land ownership and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and Conservation International Pacific Islands Programme have come together to carry out the BIORAP.

The bulk of the funding for the BIORAP survey is being provided by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which is a joint programme between the Government of France (l’Agence Française de Développement), Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.

The BIORAP survey is into its second week and will be finished by the end of May.

For more information please contact ACEO Faleafaga Toni Tipamaa