Helping Save Samoa’s Forests UNDP Administrator and GEF Chief Executive meet a community on the frontline

Sep 3, 2014

With Samoa’s forests under increasing threat from climate change, unsustainable land use practices and the advance of invasive species, the government is working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and 26 communities across the country to save three critical forest areas.

“Perhaps nowhere else on Earth are people’s lives, livelihoods, and economies more reliant on a healthy environment than they are in the Small Island Developing States,” said UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark. 

In a break from the Third International Small Island Developing States conference being held in Apia, Helen Clark the UNDP Administrator and Naoko Ishii the GEF Chief Executive Officer today met with people of Luatuanu’u. This is one of the 26 communities participating in the Integration of Climate Change Risks and Resilience into Forestry Management in Samoa (ICCRIFS) project.

“This project is an excellent example of how the GEF and UNDP are supporting communities from Ridge to Reef with an integrated, holistic approach. It demonstrates how local communities can serve as catalysts for effective action in the face of increasing threats from climate change that help sustain livelihoods and build resilience" said Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson.

A key element of the Forestry Project’s success has been engaging 16,700 people in the management of their local forestry areas. In each participating village, leaders, men, women and children used simple materials like cardboard and paper Mache to create a three dimensional model of their area. For many, this was the first time they had seen a bird’s eye view of how the watersheds, agricultural lands and the entire ecosystem of where they live are interlinked.  

In Luatuanu’u today, local leaders took Miss Clark and Ms Ishii through the model their community had created several months ago and explained how it is now used to make local forestry management decisions.      

“Engaging local people in sustainably managing the water, arable land and all the resources upon which they rely, from the ridge to the reef, is critical,” said Miss Clark.   

Models like these also provide the Samoan government with valuable local knowledge to use in national forestry management plans. 

This effort to save Samoa’s forests also involves replanting native species grown in community nurseries, guarding against forest fires, and working with communities to improve the productivity of their low-land agricultural lands, so there is less need to encroach into upland forests. 

Miss Clark and Ms Ishii today saw the native tree nursery and an agro-forestry demonstration plot in Luatuanu’u, where, together with the Samoan Farmers Association, local people are growing a more diverse range of fruits and vegetables than they did in the past. 
Launched in 2011, the Project aims to revitalize Samoa’s forests. This is a key priority under the governments’ national plan to adapt to climate change. Healthier forests reduce the prevalence of such risks as landslides, flood and poor water supply.  As climate change threatens to produce more powerful weather events, stronger forests in Samoa will help protect communities against cyclones and other natural disasters. 

The project is financed by a grant from the Global Environment Facility through the Least Developed Country Fund (LDCF) plus co-financing by the Government of Samoa and implemented by UNDP.

Contact information
In Apia, Samoa: Lisa Garvey -; + 685 7726033
In New York, USA: Dylan Lowthian - + 1 212 906 5516
For the GEF
In Apia, Samoa, USA: Christian Hofer - 202 413 4185

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