Moataa launches mangrove ecotourism project
The village of Moataa officially launched the "Moataa Mangrove Eco-Tourism" project on Friday morning thanks to a $20,000 grant from Australia's Direct Aid Programme.
The project aims to promote local and international tourism and also protect the natural environment.
The Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, Ms. Sara Moriarty, stated in her keynote address that for, many years, the Australian Government has provided small grants to community organisations and groups across Samoa to implement small-scale projects which are intended to have a large-scale impact through their Direct Aid Programme.
"The Direct Aid Programme is unique amongst our development activities in Samoa because it has a direct and targeted impact on people's lives by funding projects that are designed by the very communities that they are seeking to benefit," she said.
She said that the Moataa Mangrove Eco-Tourism project was the first of its kind to be funded under the auspices of the Direct Aid Programme.
"I know the local tourism industry has been deeply impacted by COVID-19 restrictions on international travel, but I am sure tourists around the world are hoping for some tropical weather especially the southern part of the world that's now in winter," she said.
"Despite international tourists not being able to travel at this time, I really hope that local tourists and kayaking enthusiasts will come and visit this site.
"The Australian High Commission is very pleased to support these efforts in providing funds to enable this project to be completed especially during these very uncertain times."
Lenata'i Victor Tamapua spoke on behalf of the village and said they were looking at how they can acknowledge and appreciate living together with the mangroves.
"We also looked at having this project to generate some funds, the village we don't have funds available at all times to sustain the walkway, so we looked at a project that can assist," he said.
Lenata'i thanked the Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, Sara Moriarty for the funding and explained that some of the equipment made available through the funds include kayaks, canoes and a floating dock next to the bridge for people to access the mangrove area.
He further said that a house to store the kayaks and a small office was created after renovating a small house which had cost around $6000 thanks to fundraising from the village council.
He also acknowledged the assistance of Samoa Tourism Authority, The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
"Newcastle University from Australia, they have confirmed that they have funding for an education facility to build here. We are looking at building that education facility hopefully by the end of this year if not we are looking at early next year," he said.
"That education facility will assist the project and it's designed to be able to hold a classroom of 30 people; it's all part of the education process on learning about the mangroves, learning whats the living within the water of the mangroves and all that and how we can take care of each other.”
He also thanked Taumeasina Island Resort General Manager, Tuiataga Nathan Bucknall for providing them with support.