23 Oct 2002

Concerns over destruction of Samoa's lowlying forests

11:56 am on 23 October 2002

Environmentalists in Samoa are concerned at government plans to remove 1200 hectares of tropical forest on Savaii and build a small town there.

Va'asili Moelagi Jackson, a conservationist based on Savaii, says plans to turn low lying forests in Salelologa into a township will destroy flora and fauna endemic to Samoa.

This comes after local media had revealed the government bought the forest land from Salelologa landowners for 4 million US dollars.

Environmentalists say this sale breaches a 1990 covenant between the landowners and the Swedish Society for Conservation of Nature.

Under this deal both parties agreed to preserve the forest for traditional use in return for the funding for village projects.

Va'asili says, meanwhile, that work on the new town has begun and part of the forest has already been decimated.

"The road, the building has started, as far as plan is being laid out there is nothing we NGO's we are pestering - where is the plan... it looks as though there is something like a hundred plans,...government argues that it's going to be sustainable, but I can't see that.. half of the peninusla will be gone... there will be quite a devastation."

Va'asili Moelagi Jackson.

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, says that the Saleleloga town development will create jobs for the villagers and that it will be his government's greatest achievement.