Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has made a rallying call for Samoans to do a better job in protecting wetlands.
A wetland is a land area that is saturated with water, either permanently or seasonally, such that it takes on the characteristics of a distinct ecosystem.
“Many species rely on wetlands such as seaweeds, birds, fish and plants,” Tuilaepa said. “It is worrying to see many wetlands being ruined because it wasn’t taken care of.
“Some villages take the wood to build houses, others dump rubbish in wetland areas which is poisonous to the ecosystem.
“When people dump rubbish into our rivers it will go downstream making our rivers unpleasing to the eyes when we drive past. We see small plastics on rocks and around the waterways.
“We need to keep our wetlands clean for the people who use the water and those who get resources from rivers or the ocean.”
Prime Minister Tuilaepa made the call yesterday during the national celebration of World Wetlands Day. Held at Togitogiga, the celebration was guided by the theme of “Wetlands for our Future; Sustainable Livelihoods.”
The official ceremony was followed by community tree planting, cultural entertainment and a poem competition by youths of Falealili and Siumu to highlight the significance of wetlands.
O Le Pūpū Pu’ē (O.L.P.P) National Park was also officially designated as the Second Wetlands of International Importance for Samoa, embodying the government’s commitment to ensure the site and its resources are conserved and sustainably used.
“The government thinks that this is a place that should be protected by the world in Samoa because this is where the water is being kept; most of the people rely on this place for water,” Tuilaepa said.
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, many different species including humans rely on the resources wetlands provide.
“It is a source of food and fresh water for some, others use the plants for medicinal purposes and the list goes on. Wetlands have always been a big part of Samoan lives.”