Samoa’s visitors can offset carbon footprint

The first year of Samoa’s national carbon offsetting programme through tree planting is coming to a close in December and Samoa Conservation Society (S.C.S.) is excited to continue the scheme into the future.

Thirty youth from Sa’aga, Poutasi and Saleilua, nine of whom are women, have been working a week per month to plant trees in O le Pupu Pue National Park, paid for by travellers to Samoa trying to offset the impact of their flights.

The youth have been working alongside the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and learning essential skills along the way.

Project Manager and Technical Director for S.C.S, Christine Tuioti Mariner said having youth as forestry champions is something to be proud of.

“We’re also setting them up for future jobs to do with the environment,” she said.

Starting Monday, they will gather in Apia for a final training session to take the project into the future – as forestry champions they will ideally help build up capacity of other youth in their villages.

“From this training course, there is a whole range of things that any of these youth can get into, there is a whole range of things we’re trying to deliver with the hope they will want to work in some part of these areas in future.”

“Capacity building and awareness of youth and children is really what we should be focusing on now,” she said.

The training programme is three days of in class learning, and two days of field trips to a marine reserve and forest reserve.

Village pulenuu and councils worked in partnership with S.C.S. to have their say on the environmental issues they wanted training in the most, like waste management, health in climate change, environmental law, plant identification, tour guiding and more.

Ms. Mariner said the project to replant in the national park involves maintenance as well. For trees to successfully offset their potential 22 kilograms of carbon per year, they need to grow to at least 10 years old. 

“By planting in the national park, the project can ensure the trees are protected and maintained, and will be most likely to mature,” she said.

Having women involved makes all the difference in ensuring the long-term impact of such a project, Ms. Mariner continued.

“Most female participation in projects is sheltered, and this is laborious work. To have nine out of 30 participants be women, personally for me, that’s a really big achievement.”

The programme this year has been funded by the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility to kick-start a concept that requires a lot of fine-tuning to make financially sustainable.

Going forward, Ms. Mariner wants to expand the programme to more villages and youth, and potentially begin planting outside the national parks, as well as work closely with the tourism sector to get as many people paying their way in carbon offsetting.

Eventually, people could join the Forestry Division in person to plant their own trees, and feel the direct impact of their flight, Ms. Mariner said.

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