Two million tree milestone reached: Govt.
Samoa has officially crossed the finish line in its Two Million Trees campaign, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E) has told the Samoa Observer.
The campaign was designed 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.
The Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) of the Ministry, Frances Reupena, told the Samoa Observer that 2,215,756 trees had been planted during the Two Million Tree Campaign between 2015 – 2020.
“Looking ahead, the biggest outcome that we are striving for is increased native forested areas in Samoa which means an increased and healthy flora and fauna and as a result increased sustainability of our people’s livelihoods,” she said.
“In addition, this will result in increased forest cover, increased absorption of carbon in the atmosphere [...] increased protection and conservation of our river systems and reduced surface runoff and flooding to name a few.
“The campaign targeted two million trees to be planted within 5 years from 2015 to 2020. Samoa has planted a total of 2,215,756 trees, an incredible national achievement.”
The C.E.O. said that the tree planting campaign covered the whole country and included many communities through community-based tree planting programs and targeted Government-led tree plantings in National Reserves and National Parks.
“Primary and Secondary schools around the country also took part in the campaign through educational programs such as forest tours and tree plantings," she said.
"We are also pleased to note the strong support and contribution of the private sector and NGOs in achieving this national milestone."
“We had commercial banks, clubs, youth groups, farmer associations, churches, environmental associations and many others. We are also pleased to note the contribution of all government ministries and corporations. It was truly an ‘All Hands On Deck’ effort.
“Lastly, we note and acknowledge the contribution of our Athletes(from Samoa and around the Pacific) of the South Pacific Games 2019 who took part in planting more than 3,000 trees to support the campaign and to offset the carbon emitted through traveling.”
She explained that they have not yet extended the campaign but are planning to.
“We are finalizing the Report with the completion of the Two Million Tree Planting Campaign 2015 – 2020. We also note that the first campaign was launched in 2009 and ended in 2012 to Plant 1 Million Trees,” she said.
She said the campaign has strengthened connections between people and their environment, and the urgent need to sustainably manage natural resources to continually maintain our natural habitats and ecosystems to sustain ecological services supporting people’s livelihoods, wildlife and a variety of species precious to Samoans.
“The campaign has encouraged our people to plant more native trees to restore degraded lands from the highlands to coastal areas reinforcing the ‘Ridge to Reef Approach’,” she said.
“In addition, the outcome of the campaign, as noted above, will increase Samoa’s forest cover, increase carbon sequestration, protect our water catchment areas and our biodiversity, life on land and below water. Finally, the campaign also promoted planting of trees important for wood supplies and food security."