The truth about Falease’eala’s decision
Re: Village Rejects Money Offer to Protect Environment
With due respect, we are writing to your goodself to convey our disappointment concerning the front page article in Tuesday’s edition of the Samoa Observer titled “Village Rejects Money Offer to Protect Environment” written by your reporter, IoanaTupai.
We believe this article is an example of misleading and sensational journalism. It contains inaccuracies and does not reflect the event your newspaper was invited to our village to write about.
Last Thursday, our village of Falease’ela was honoured and excited to have the opportunity to take part in activities facilitated by the M.N.R.E. as part of National Environment Week. The whole village was involved, Matai, our women’s committee, untitled men, youth and school children.
These activities included awareness seminars about the importance of protecting the Manumea, the Two Million Trees Project and Waste Management.
A team at Falease’ela-uta planted 500 native tree seedlings at the intake of the Liua le Vai o Sina River, a large group of youth and matai cleaned up the foreshore and planted mangroves and the women’s committee and school children picked up rubbish and sorted the waste, all assisted by staff from M.N.R.E.
It was a wonderful day of working together with knowledge shared, enthusiasm high and plans made for future conservation projects in the village.
We eagerly awaited an article about our event to appear in the Samoa Observer. Five days later, we were extremely disappointed to see an image of the river accompanying a sensational article based on comments by the President of Falease’ela Environment Protection Society (F.E.P.S) referring to discussions our village had with the E.P.C. over the last few years.
These discussions culminated in a decision in September 2016 not to go ahead with a proposed hydro power station on the Liua le Vai o Sina River.
We feel that Taloolevavau’s comments were taken out of context for this article.
Instead of the hydropower project, which would obviously have a negative environmental impact on the river, it’s biodiversity and the marine life and reef systems in the Lefaga District, our village chose in unity to focus instead on projects to protect our environment.
Our agreement with the E.P.C. was met with mutual understanding and we have moved on from those discussions of over a year ago which your reporter chose to focus on and unfortunately in doing so missed the whole essence of last Thursday’s events and what it meant to our village.
Her article in no way reflects the activities that took place during Environment Week at Falease’ela and she spelt the name of our distinguished orator incorrectly, (his name is Taloolevavau), and referred to him as “MrsUalesi” and later on in the article as “she”.
Throughout the years of private discussions and negotiations between the E.P.C. and Falease’elait was never the intention of the village to have the media involved in any way.
Representatives of the village who have been interviewed previously for media articles have deliberately not referred to discussions with the E.P.C. out of respect. Naturally we are very disappointed to read MsTupai’s article as this is not something that should have been made headline news in such a sensational way.
We are not against renewable energy, in fact our committee is currently researching solar power and looking at how that could be implemented in our village.
Falease’ela is a quiet, humble village whose people desire to protect and conserve the natural and cultural heritage we have been blessed with by God to be guardians of for future generations.
The village has been working on conservation projects in our village since 2007 and are very grateful to our donors, particularly the U.N.D.P. G.E.F. Small Grants Programme and all our stakeholders including N.G.O. and government departments, particularly the M.N.R.E. for their invaluable support.
For a more accurate picture of what happened in our village during Environment Week please refer to FEPS Facebook Page www.facebook.com/FaleaseelaEnvironmentProtectionSociety