New mapping skills to boost conservation

Government officers are better equipped to map and conserve Samoa’s protected areas after a refresher course on capturing and analysing geographic data.

The geographic information systems (G.I.S.) skills course was undertaken with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.).

In a 22 October statement the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s (M.N.R.E.) Assistant Chief Executive Officer— Environment, Seumalo Afele Faiilagi, said the training was a timely follow-up for technical staff.

The M.N.R.E. organised and implemented the training with S.P.R.E.P.

Its objective was to strengthen the capacity of Government personnel to use G.I.S. 

Participants learned how to utilise free, open-source G.I.S. computer software and records of spatial data in the field to produce basic maps of protected and conserved areas.

“This was a great opportunity to build the capacity of our newly recruited officers who will be involved in protected areas and biodiversity conservation work. With the current COVID-19 situation we are fortunate that S.P.R.E.P. is based in Samoa and is providing continuous support and technical assistance,” said Seumalo.

“The training has strengthened our capability in the application of new technology and tools that will improve our current work on the establishment and management of protected area networks and nature reserves, including wider biodiversity conservation efforts with more reliable data and information.”

Early this year in February training covering G.I.S. fundamentals were conducted. 

Participants were provided with hands-on, practical skills in capturing data while in the field using handheld global positioning (G.P.S.) units and uploading field data to produce basic site maps.

Lareina Tago, Senor Forestry Management Officer for the M.N.R.E. Forestry Division, participated in the February training.

She said she was grateful for the opportunity to increase her technical knowledge:

“I am grateful for the opportunity provided to enhance my existing G.I.S.-related skills and knowledge, which will continue to assist me with my current work on forestry mapping,” said Ms. Tago.

A S.P.R.E.P. Protected Areas Officer, Vainuupo Jungblut, said they were happy to provide the training:

“We are happy to be able to provide this training of the G.I.S.-related skills for the government of Samoa. 

“This training has increased the current pool of local G.I.S.-related expertise and will facilitate more accurate mapping of protected and conserved areas of Samoa. We will provide further follow-up technical support and mentoring.”

The most recent training was held on 6 to 7 October.

It was funded through the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (B.I.O.P.A.M.A.), an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (A.C.P.) states and financed by the European Union.

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