Samoa has been at the forefront of efforts to protect its unique biodiversity and ecosystems. It is home to O le Pupu Pu'e National Park, established in 1978, the first national park declared in the South Pacific. A national workshop for protected area stakeholder's, co-organised and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Samoa Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) was completed for Samoa this month to help initiate measures to improve data and information on Samoa's protected areas.
"This workshop is an important opportunity to share the available data and information on our protected areas and to reaffirm the need to pull together this key data and information into a more coherent structure" said Acting Chief Executive Officer of the MNRE, Ms. Tauti Fuatino Leota.
SPREP Director General, Mr Kosi Latu emphasised that having access to up-to-date, accurate and well organised data and information on protected areas will assist to assess and verifythe effectiveness of protected area management in Samoa and other Pacific island countries.
"The support provided by SPREP through this initiative will enable Samoa to meet reporting requirements to global targets and frameworks and satisfy reporting to related regional frameworks and to achieve relevant national priorities and aspirations," said the Director General of SPREP, Mr. Leota Kosi Latu in his opening remarks.
"Samoa is a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity and as such has committed to implementing the global Aichi Biodiversity targets, specifically the Samoa country roadmap for Aichi target 11"
Participants at the workshop engaged in meaningful dialogue and discussion on national and local level coordination arrangements for protected areas which included protected areas administration, management and governance, verifying capacity needs and determining gaps in protected area information.
A live demonstration of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal (PIPAP), managed by SPREP, was the main highlight of the gathering and generated a lot of interest and feedback, especially on the quality of Samoa's protected area data.
The PIPAP is a one-stop web-based resource for Pacific island protected area information to store, manage and share data and information on protected areas and ensures that the security and integrity of national data are properly managed for the long term use. It will continue to be updated with active engagement of SPREP member countries to ensure accurate information on national protected areas is shared.
"Stakeholders understand the need to ensure protected area data for Samoa is accurate and available to support Samoa's contribution to the CBD Aichi target 11 on protected areas which is articulated in Samoa's National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAP)," said Mr Vainuupo Jungblut of SPREP.
The workshop concluded with priority follow up actions including the establishment and formal endorsement of a national protected areas technical working committee for Samoa. This committee, once operational, would have specific tasks to deliver related to collating and consolidating protected area data and information as well as other associated tasks and coordination functions.
"The workshop on protected areas for Samoa was a good follow up for government officials, particularly in our joint work with partners, including NGOs and especially with local communities to ensure effective management of our protected areas," said Ms. Moeumu Uili of the Samoa Environment ministry (MNRE).
"The discussions confirmed where we need to focus our efforts, mainly to coordinate with stakeholders to better organise and improve our data to inform planning and decision making for protected areas management and associated reporting on global targets. We will move forward on this through a collaborative effort with our stakeholders to get the best outcome possible."
The workshop held on 21 February, was made possible through funding assistance of the EU-ACP funded BIOPAMA programme through IUCN and executed by SPREP. The main objective of the BIOPAMA programme is to assist Pacific ACP countries to meet their national priorities and regional and global commitments related to protected areas through improving access to and the availability of biodiversity data, development of information systems to improve decision making, improving access to the best available science and knowledge to enhance the work of existing institutions and networks on protected areas and building capacity for protected areas management.
The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme aims to address threats to biodiversity in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, while reducing poverty in communities in and around protected areas. It is an initiative of the ACP Group of States, financially supported by the European Union's 10th European Development Fund (EDF). It is implemented by IUCN in collaboration with regional partners such as SPREP in the Pacific region.
This news story was originally published by SPREP here.