Schools' tree planting to offset Games carbon emissions

Close to 4000 athletes, officials and tourists descending on Samoa for the 16th Pacific Games this July will emit hundreds of thousands of kilograms of carbon into the atmosphere to get here. 

But at least 30 of Samoa’s primary schools and colleges hope to help offset those emissions by planting close to 10,000 trees in national parks and reserves around the country.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Two Million Trees project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.), has invited schools to send 15 students each to planting events between in April and June.

Vailima National Reserve, O le Pupu Pu’e National Park, Vaipouli Forest State Land, Masamasa/Falelima National Park and Faleolo Reserve will get each get a boost of up to 1500 native trees. 

The Principal Forestry Officer of the M.N.R.E. and Two Million Trees project lead, Susau Siolo, said teaching children about the forests is an investment for the future.

“So by giving them the lessons we work on today we assure there will be a big change in environment strategies for tomorrow,” she said.

15 schools are taking part in June’s planting exercise, five schools per day. Ms Siolo said the children won’t only plant trees, but also get tours of the forests they’ll work in, and try and learn the scientific and Samoan names of native trees.

“Many of our students now days do not know much about the forest, they only stay in the house and play games,” she said.

In an effort to reach Samoa’s two million target, the Ministry has a large stock of tree seedlings to give away for free. The project needs to succeed, to improve Samoa’s biodiversity and forest cover, which will help mitigate the effects of climate change.

“Planting more trees will try and reduce that soil erosion problem. The roots of the trees are so important for holding up the soil,” Ms Siolo explained.

“There is a lot of flooding here in town, which is why we have a lot of other projects, like the Vaisigano River project, to reduce those impacts.’

Deforestation affects the urban areas but it can be devastating for marine life, she said.

“Whatever happens on the land will happen in the ocean. 

Segmentation is quite a problem here. When you cut down a tree there is soil erosion then it comes down our rivers and waterways and is quite impacting on our marine resources.”

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