Environmental Guardians set sail

The sails have been set and the anchor hoisted as Conservation International (CI), together with the Samoan Government, Samoa Voyaging Society (S.V.S.) and many other key partners, prepare to take the Va’a Based Environmental Education Campaign to their next site, the Aiga I Le Tai District.

After months of preparations, the campaign – more passionately known as ‘Guardians: Tausi Lou Fa’asinomaga”– will be based at Manono-Uta Primary School throughout this week as the Guardians team conduct various fun and interactive conservation themed activities for students of Mulifanua, Apolima-Uta, Manono-Uta, Salua and Faleu Primary Schools.

Guided by five key conservation modules, the campaign aims to increase the environmental literacy of Samoan communities through their youth.

This is done with the use Samoa’s traditional voyaging canoe, the Gaualofa, as a floating classroom to bring these messages and also teach about Samoa’s proud voyaging history in the region, and what wise environmental “Guardians” our ancestors were. 

“Building pride in our Samoan voyaging heritage and what our ancestors were capable of is an important part of this education campaign. As where there is pride, there can be effective change.” As reiterated by Campaign director and S.V.S. President, Schannel van Dijken. 

The year seven students from the five different primary schools can look forward to many exciting and fun activities linked to the five modules; such as the Coral Champion module which will give them the opportunity to learn about coral biodiversity, learn how to snorkel out in the well managed fish reserve of Samatau Village and identify live and dead corals.

The second module is called Tree Guardians which will teach them the many roles and importance of our trees, use visual activities to show how trees are linked to the ozone layer as well as visits to a mangrove site at Apolima-Uta.

The third module, Wise Fishers, employs fun games and creative activities for students to learn about sustainable fishing practices, the importance of M.P.A’s, the role of the marine food chain and impacts of destructive fishing methods.

There is also the Trash Star module which illustrates the different types of waste (whether non-biodegradable or biodegradable), how to effectively manage waste and how destructive non-biodegradable trash is to our environment.

And finally, there’s the Samoan Voyagers module which will give the students the opportunity to learn from Samoa’s very own modern voyagers, the Samoa Voyaging Society, as well as tour the Gaualofa and learn useful voyaging techniques.

This module will also teach a bit about mapping, archaeology, canoe building as well as how past voyagers only needed what nature provides to traverse the open oceans and make long voyages to different islands.

“The Guardians team understands that children will absorb more when teaching them in a fun, hands-on type of way and out in the environment where they can see for themselves how nature works.” says CI Program Associate and campaign logistical coordinator, Maria Sapatu.

This view is shared by all team members and partners involved. 

“If we manage to peak the interest of the young children of Samoa with the environmental knowledge we share then this will have a ripple effect reaching their parents and neighbors,” adds Ministry of Education Sports and Culture’s Curriculum Officer, Toloai Tipi.

“They will go home with the new knowledge imparted to them by our Guardians team and will have many stories to tell their parents and village friends. They will unknowingly be passing on what they learnt to those they share their stories with.”

The Guardian lessons are key to helping sustain life and preserve the very limited natural resources we have available in a small island like Samoa so that the future generations will have access to the same environmental benefits we enjoy today. 

Aside from the unique use of the Gaualofa as a floating classroom, this campaign is different from your average awareness programs as it harnesses collaborative efforts of various government ministries, organizations and private businesses, to impart environmental lessons to future leaders of Samoa – our children.

“We have many environmental agencies, groups and Government offices in Samoa all working towards the same goal in helping Samoa sustain its limited natural resources,” expressed the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries - Fisheries Assistant, Catherine Esau.

“That’s what I like about this campaign. It allows these various groups the opportunity to work hand in hand to teach our children conservation lessons that will help our nation in the long run. This will help foster stronger relationships.”

CI Samoa would like to thank its key funding partner, the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, as well as all the key implementing partners; Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development, Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, Samoa Voyaging Society, Youth Climate Action Network Samoa, Samoa Conservation Society, National University of Samoa, and with support from Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Secretariat of The Pacific Regional Environmental Program.

So if you are in the area this week then please feel free to stop by and have a look at what the campaign has to offer.


The author works for Conservation International.

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