The coastal village of Setafao Saipipi sought Seacology’s help to expand its marine conservation efforts. It had already established a 10-acre protected area in its inner reef, with a conservation building (fale).
It wanted to enlarge the protected area, to link the inner reef to the fringing reef, increasing the area protected to 50 acres. This will conserve fish and coral communities from the reef front, reef crest, and back reef. It will be much more effective at protecting juvenile populations of economically important fishes and invertebrates. It will also protect part of the vital fringing reef, where many varieties of brilliantly colored fish, and six species of giant clam are found. The community expects its efforts to serve as a model for other villages interested in reef management.
Setafao Saipipi sits at the east end of volcanic Savai’i Island, which is home to great biodiversity. The 179,643-acre Central Savai’i Rainforest, the largest continuous expanse of rainforest in Polynesia, occupies the higher elevations in the middle of the island. The forest contains most of Samoa’s native plant and animals.
The community will use a Seacology grant for two projects. First, the community will triple the size of its existing conservation fale to create an environmental education and visitors center. The center will host educational displays, provide a space for educational programs for primary and secondary school students in the village and elsewhere.
An expanded fale will also help the community develop small-scale ecotourism. They plan to focus on a snorkeling tour that highlights marine management, coral and fish diversity, and Samoan giant clams. The facility, with exhibits on local ecosystems, will educate tourists and serve as the center for snorkeling tours. It will also give women a place to demonstrate traditional Samoan handicraft methods, including weaving mats and creating siapo (tapa or bark cloth).
Second, the village will replace the damaged walls of its freshwater pool, where village residents get water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and clothes washing. It is in danger of being inundated by saltwater as the sea level rises.