Samoa's two million trees campaign boosted

More than 3000 new native trees were planted in Tuanaimato and Vailima this month as Pacific Games athletes from around the region got their hands dirty to support the Two Million Trees campaign. 

Athletes from Samoa, the Norfolk Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti and Vanuatu took time out of competition schedules to plant 3235 seedlings between them. 

The new fiti, ifilele, moso’oi, poumuli, fetau, tava, malili, asitoa and tamanu were laid at Vailima National Reserve at Mt. Vaea and the Faleata Recreation Reserve at Tuanaimato. 

The Savaii-based boxers and supporters also took part, planting 180 natives at Don Bosco College in Salelologa.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.), sports taking part in the initiative included: netball, rugby, va’a, badminton, swimming, archery, cricket, power lifting, athletics and boxing.

Team Samoa - aided by the size of its contingent - planted 1380 seedlings, while Fiji planted 945. 

The Norfolk Island netball team alone planted 280 trees and Vanuatu's archers planted 50.

The Oceania National Olympic Committee's outreach program, Voices of the Athletes, also planted 150 trees.

The tree planting was part of Samoa’s Greening the Games initiative, an effort to reduce the impact of waste or consumption on the earth.

Each tree planted contributes to offsetting carbon emissions from the flights taken to bring athlete from the region to Samoa. 

Passengers can calculate how many trees they should plant to offset their flights at this website, and M.N.R.E has seedlings available for free and can help facilitate planting efforts.

The broader Two Million Trees campaign aims to plant native and fruit trees from 2015 to 2020 to restore Samoa's forests after a decade of decline driven by climate change, infrastructure and the 2009 tsunami. 

In April an M.N.R.E. official said the program had progressed less than half-way to its 2020 target. 

Updated data on tree plantations were still being collected, the government said, and the possible option for extending the campaign's deadline was yet to be canvassed. 

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