Samoa works to save its forests
The Samoan government is working with villages to protect their forests from increasing threat of climate change, unsustainable land use and invasive species.
The Samoan government is working with villages to protect their forests from increasing threats of climate change, unsustainable land use and invasive species.
Supported by the UNDP and the Global Environment Fund, the Integration of Climate Change Risks and Resilience into Forestry Management project engages 26 communities across Samoa to better manage the forest resources on which they rely.
Mary Baines visited one of the forests, at Luatuanu'u Village, just outside of Apia.
The UNDP administrator, Helen Clark, says stronger forests reduce the risk of landslides, flood and poor water supply, and will help protect communities against cyclones and other natural disasters.
HELEN CLARK: Climate change is changing their lives. This country is getting hotter, it's getting wetter, it's getting more frequent and more intense storms. Where you have a lot of introduced, non-indigenous vegetation, it doesn't stand up to this very well. So part of the project is about planting more appropriate trees which can withstand these effects.
Ms Clark says as part of the project, villages have made three-dimensional models of their forest areas to see a birds-eye view of how the rivers, agricultural land and entire ecosystem work together.
HELEN CLARK: Projects don't succeed unless the local people want them, own them and drive them. And that's what we've seen with the 3D modelling here. The village has said yes, we want to be part of this, we're going to design it. And it's given a full understanding of this ridge to reef concept, that we need holistic ecosystem management from the mountain-top down to the lagoon and ocean.
The Head of Forestry at Samoa's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Moafanua Tolusina Pouli, says strengthening forest management will protect native species and biodiversity.
MOAFANUA TOLUSINA POULI: Working very closely with the community how they assist in protecting those areas because of the genetic biodiversity conservation, and also the ecosystem services, because they're relying on the water supply and also the birds, and native ones.
The project also involves re-planting native trees in community nurseries, and with the help of the Samoa Farmers Association, the productivity of low-lying agricultural land is being improved so there's less need to encroach into upland forests. Ela Tavita, who lives at Luatuanu'u Village, says the project has made a difference to the community.
ELA TAVITA: It's important for us to plant the cabbage, carrots, to earn some money for our village, for the future of our kids and also the people of this village.
The Global Environment Fund's Chief Executive Officer, Naoko Ishii, says the model has provided the Samoan government with valuable local knowledge which will be used in future national forestry plans.
NAOKO ISHII: Local knowledge is now connected to the national policy, that's the key. I'm so pleased to see how it works on the ground and how everything fights against climate change. So I'm so assured that this is the model we can continue to pass on for the future.
The project has a budget of 2.4 million US dollars until 2015.
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