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New year, agenda unchanged for Conservation Society

The Samoa Conservation Society may have elected a new executive but its goals for conserving the nation's environment have not changed. This is according to outgoing President, James Atherton.

At its annual general meeting on Saturday, S.C.S. elected a founding member, Leilani Duffy Iosefa, as President and voted Mr. Atherton as Vice President.

Ms. Iosefa has previously worked for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Conservation International and is now an environmental consultant. 

She has a master’s degree in environmental management and is a “committed conservationist,” her predecessor said. 

Former secretary Faleafaga Toni Tapamaa has moved to the treasury seat; new member Kelly Knight has joined as secretary; while four other new members will join the organisation's executive. 

Mr. Atherton said the society now has $800,000 in grants over ten projects and is preparing to work hard this year to deliver on their plans.

“This comes with great responsibility, achieving and implementing the projects we are getting funded to do,” he said.

The group is in their seventh year of operation. 

“We continue with our [Save the Manumea campaign to save] the national bird of Samoa remains critically endangered so our work must continue to save it, it’s a flagship for our conservation,” said Mr. Atherton. 

“We will continue to promote green living and everybody thinking about their environmental footprint and their carbon footprint.”

Next week kicks of the first of its many new training initiatives, including in green careers and jobs, and tour guiding in Samoa’s natural sites. 

Several new people have joined the society bringing “new blood” to the group and some fresh ideas. 

One of those ideas is to bring on a paid chief executive officer to oversee all the administration and financing, as it has proved to be too big a job for the pool of volunteers.

Mr. Atherton said he is looking into how to fund a salary for such a person, or at the next best option a full time finance manager to work with a finance expert volunteer arriving from New Zealand in March.

Currently the organisation has just two paid staff, the consultant running the Save the Manumea campaign, Jane Va’afusuaga and Dave Chung who runs the Green Livelihoods Project.

Another paid full-time member of staff would ensure projects are completed at a high standard and on time, Mr. Atherton said.

But above and beyond staff and volunteers, the bulk of the work to save Samoa’s biodiversity and environment rests with the entire population, the organisation believes. 

“The future of the island, of our natural heritage, is in everybody’s hands. It’s up to all Samoans to think about how they live, what they buy, how they manage their waste, whether they buy plastic, whether they compost or recycle, whether they travel and carbon offset or not," Mr. Atherton said. 

“The future is up to everybody, and that is really the challenge for us: building from just a few people who are interested in the environment to everybody, because everybody needs to take this seriously for the economy, the environment and the culture." 

 



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