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Samoa

Setāfaō Saipipi Village

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Conservation benefit: Protection of 40 acres of marine area for 25 years

Community benefit: Expanded conservation building, perimeter markers for protected area

Date Approved: 06.2020

Ecotourism

This project supports a local conservation-based tourism initiative.

Ocean

This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

The coastal village of Setafao Saipipi sought Seacology’s help to expand its marine conservation efforts. It had already protected its 10-acre inner coral reef and wanted to enlarge the protected area to 50 acres.

The bigger protected area will conserve fish and coral communities in 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.

The village 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 higher elevations in the middle of the island. The forest contains most of Samoa’s native plants and animals.

The community will use a Seacology grant to triple the size of its conservation building (fale), creating an environmental education and visitors center. The center will host educational displays and programs for primary and secondary school students in the village and elsewhere.

The new visitors center 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 giant clams. The facility, with exhibits on local ecosystems, will educate tourists and serve as the center for snorkeling tours. Women will use it to demonstrate traditional Samoan handicraft methods, including weaving mats and creating siapo (tapa or bark cloth).

Project Updates

August 2020

After weeks of work by almost everyone in the village, a beautiful fale has been built. Villagers hauled water to mix the concrete; men lined up to pass buckets of concrete to the site. “This is the first project of this size in the history of the village,” the project leader reported. “Songs of joy and gratitude were heard. The spirit of unity was amazing.” The village plans to finish construction–adding bathrooms, plastering, and painting–by October.

Twice a month, conservation committee members monitor and clean up the protected area and monitor the growth of giant clams and coral. They are working with the government fisheries department and marine biology students to better understand the marine ecosystem.

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