By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 27 OCTOBER 2020: Sitting on one of the biggest mangrove swamps in the country, Vaiusu village has made a stance by restoring its livelihood and economic benefits by replanting and restoring its mangrove eco-system.
It is also a legacy to leave behind for its future generations to enjoy.
Joined by several partners such as the Marist Brothers Old Pupils Association, representatives of the International Conservation Fund, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), YCAN Samoa, they planted 3000 seedlings of mangrove plants last Saturday.
The restoration project is funded under the Civil Society Support Programme and the Vaiusu mayor, Ulugia Ielome Mulumulu is very excited to see the project finally implemented after 2 years of trying to get it on its feet.
He said mangroves are very important to the villagers’ livelihood and economic benefits and he acknowledges the assistance of those who offered to assist the mangrove replanting.
What concerns him the most is the impact of climate change on the village and as mayor and the one pushing for the project, he wants to leave behind a legacy for the future generation of the village to enjoy.
“Vaiusu is very vulnerable to threats especially on the coastal side as it is very open to the sea, so we intend to cover and replant 1 acre of sea land with mangroves with the hope of expanding it,” he explained.
The village has also drawn boundaries to indicate to their fishermen restricted areas set aside for the replanting project.
The replanting process was not easy trying to get through deep mud, but there was a community feeling with men, women, adults and children participating and enjoying a special time together.
Eco- Consultant, Maria Sapatu –Kennar who assisted Vaiusu and CSSP with the project said replanting the mangroves is just one component of the project fund.
Restoring mangrove eco-system
“Replanting the mangrove is to try and restore the mangrove eco-system of Vaiusu which is one of the areas within the urban areas facing a lot of threats and problems from pollution, coastal reclamation and rubbish,” said Maria.
“We hope to expand it because mangroves are natural seawalls in protecting not only the coastal areas but also the breeding areas for marine species,” she said.
Several families in Vaiusu depend on fishing mud-crabs, shell fish such as tugane and others as a source of income and restoring the eco-system also increases the abundancy of the livelihood.
Climate change response
Mangroves also mitigate the impact of climate change as mangroves absorb the highest percentage of carbon gas compared to any other trees or plants and replanting mangroves is also a component of resilience or adaptation to climate change
The final stage of the project is the management plan to provide guidelines and policies in place to conserve the area, before it is officially launched and handed over to the village next month.
“We plan to continue planting and help expand the project and monitor it on a monthly basis,” said Maria.
The challenge though is that planting a mangrove plant is not as easy as planting other trees due to the environment changes of the sea level.
According to Ulugia, Vaiusu used to have one of the highest mangrove growth, however due to climate change and neighbouring industrial developments, the mangroves slowly died out.
“But I hope replanting it, is a start of a new light that will continue to shine for the future of Vaiusu and her people,” said Ulugia.