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Two new rainforest Community Conservation Areas (CCAs) have been declared on the island of Savai’i in Samoa.
The CCAs were developed in partnership between the village communities, the Samoa Conservation Society, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and the Forestry. The CCAs are part of the continued Forest Protected Area Management project which is implemented by FAO and funded by the Global Environment Facility.
Community Conservation Areas are an approach to conserve critical areas of forest under communal land ownership where the communities have full control over all management decisions but are supported by technical partners to develop and manage the reserves. The CCA approach builds on traditional approaches in Samoa to conserve natural resources such as tapu areas (areas that are off-limits) and seasonal bans on the harvest of birds, bats or particular fish to ensure long term sustainability.
The CCAs were established by the chiefs and orators of Taga village (10 Ha) and Gataivai village (12Ha) to safeguard remnant patches of lowland rainforest. Lowland forests in Samoa have been seriously depleted and cover less than 20% of their original area as a result of logging, agricultural activity, the spread of invasive species and cyclones. The remaining lowland forest is very valuable in terms of its high biodiversity, especially its plants and birds. Many native birds seen in the CCAs including pigeons and fruit doves, Samoan Broadbill, Samoan Whistler, Kingfisher and Parrotfinch as well as native skinks, snails and insects. The Taga CCA also has a large colony of fruit bats which nest in a large banyan tree.
At the opening events chiefs of both Taga and Gataivai expressed their great appreciation to the partners who supported the establishment of the two reserves and expressed their pride to conserve their biodiversity for current and future generations.
FAO Forest and Protected Area Management Samoa Project Coordinator, Lemalu Sami Lemalu explained. “Village committees were very supportive of implementing the high priority activities with the assistance of Samoa Conservation Society, MNRE and the project team”.
The Council of Chiefs of both villages have agreed on a number of rules to protect the biodiversity in the CCAs including a ban on logging, agricultural activities and shooting birds and bats. The two villages hope to expand their reserves in the future to protect more of their rainforest and biodiversity and to conduct forest restoration including tree planting and weed management to improve the quality of the forest.
Since 2012, FAO has worked with the Government of Samoa to establish Community Conservation Areas in the highlands of these villages under the Forest Protection and Management project. These conservation areas were established to preserve the biodiversity and maintain the ecosystem services of intact forest protected areas. The introduction of organic farming, improved farming methods and sustainable land management with the aim to increase the income of the local population and prevent further eco-system degradation.
The activities are supported by the Global Environment Facility – Pacific Alliance for Sustainability – through the Forest and Protected Area Management project. Its global environmental objective is to strengthen biodiversity conservation and reduce forest land degradation. The FAO/GEF Forestry and Protected Area Management project covers Fiji, Niue, Samoa and Vanuatu.
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