Communities benefit from ICCRIFS project
The local communities’ enthusiastic commitment to climate change adaptation initiatives was remarkable to witness during the field visit to the nurseries installed through the ICCRIFS project.
- 14 villages benefit from ICCRIFS
- Nurseries funded from the project cultivate different varieties of native trees and plants primarily for reforestation and coastal protection purposes
- Native species seedlings come from the mother nursery run by the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
- The involvement and motivation of the youth is an additional, very positive output of the establishment of the nurseries.
- The use of customary land is a strong signal of the community’s recognition of the importance of collecting climate information
The fourteen villages involved (from the west, Laulii, Leusoalii, Luatuanuu, Solosolo, Eva, Salelesi, Fusi, Saoluafata, Lufilufi, Faleapuna, Falefa, Manunu, Lalomauga and Falevao) are located along a rugged coastline, where rocky headlands are common. Except for a few small pockets of public and freehold land, most of the project area is under customary land tenure, owned by the village families.
Traditionally, coastal lowland areas are used for subsistence agriculture, cultivating mainly food staples such as taro, bananas, coconuts and vegetables. Upland areas are characterized by steep slopes and deep ravines and are mainly designated for plantation crops and livestock development. The destruction of native forests, as a result of the rapid increase in these activities, is becoming a major sustainability concern.
The need to introduce alternative forestry and agro-forestry practices has become crucial in order to enhance the resilience of forest ecosystems and the communities dependent on them. This necessity is supported by the ICCRIFS project through several initiatives, including the provision of sector-tailored climate information tools assisting forests’ natural regeneration, enhancing coverage of native species, reducing loss of old growth seed trees and threats caused by unsustainable land use.
The nurseries cultivate different varieties of native trees and plants primarily for reforestation (mainly timber) and coastal protection purposes (Fetau tree, for example). The nurseries’ design itself is a good example of adaptation to natural hazards, as it has been upgraded from a basic wire frame to a metal structure after Cyclone Evan’s damages (2012). The seedlings are now protected from free range animals and a thick net cover filters the intensity of the heat and the UV rays.
Native species seedlings come from the mother nursery run by the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. At the beginning of each month, on the occasion of Aso Gafua (village meeting), small plants are distributed to the village youth and planted in uplands areas, together with shorter term cash crops for sale and consumption purposes. Penalties are often the incentive for young members to take care and responsibility of these planted varieties, which are constantly monitored by a local field assistant. In Fusi, the village council provides every family with ten seedlings and excludes whoever didn’t plant those seeds from the next distribution round.
The involvement and motivation of the youth is an additional, very positive output of the establishment of the nurseries. Thanks to this initiative, agroforestry practices are becoming more and more common amongst local farmers, as well as creating job opportunities for youth in rural areas, slowing their migration to Apia.
In Saoluafata we visited one of the two automatic weather stations installed through ICCRIFS (Figure 3). Its location on customary land is a strong signal of the community’s recognition of the importance of collecting climate information. This is a very impressive step forward in terms of climate information for the country as well as the rural communities’ awareness. This is another valuable and tangible achievement of the ICCRIFS project.