Savai'i terrain has conservation potential

By Fuimaono Lumepa Hald 19 January 2022, 12:11AM

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E.) has commissioned a climate change monitoring base at Aopo in Savai’i.

But the facility on the mountaintop can also be used for conservation purposes by the villagers according to the M.N.R.E. Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Seumalo Afele Faiilagi.

In a recent interview with the Samoa Observer, Seumalo said he agreed with comments expressed earlier on Samoa’s potential as a world conservation leader. 

Pointing to the country’s natural tropical forest cover, he said elevated villages such as Aopo, Letui, Fagaee and Sasina as well as the highest point in Savai’i, Mt Silisili have a lot of potential.

“It has the potential of attracting global interest in conservation because of its significance," he told this newspaper.

But any attempts to harness the potential of a community should be taken by the villagers and he used as an example the chiefs in the village of Aopo.

He said the climate change monitoring base – that serves the purpose of measuring the impact of climate change from the highest point of Aopo – also allows villagers to use the base for their own conservation efforts. 

“We have had teams go up to Aopo, camp there at night to measure the temperature of the highest points of Savai’i which depict the impact of climate change on our islands,” said Seumalo.

“For the villages an M.O.U. empowers the ownership of the village of their own forest areas, their trails and management thereof. 

“In Aopo trails have been placed there at the Mataoleafi and there are also trails up at Mt Silisili.”

According to the M.N.R.E. senior official there are other villages that are also within the area of the tropical forest area, which are yet to join to support the initiative.

“The other villages included in the patch of rainforest, have not come on board yet,” he said.

“But maybe the new Government will enable that because it is really all up to the owners of the land to want protection and conservation methods.”

Discussing the potential of the area for a world conservation site, the Samoa Conservation Society President, James Atherton is of the view that the area can meet the criteria.

He said there is a lot of potential and the biosphere reserve concept should be revived so the country can benefit.

“There is potential to revive that biosphere reserve concept so why not set aside that whole forest which includes the largest rainforest and largest cloud forest of 700 square kilometres including Mt Silisili,” he said.

“As an island reserve is the largest rainforest and the largest cloud forest, by setting aside that whole piece which at the moment has no protection. 

“Nothing formally agreed to protect these areas exists.” 

By Fuimaono Lumepa Hald 19 January 2022, 12:11AM
Samoa Observer

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