Improving the management and restoration of O Le Pupu Pue National Park in Samoa
Celebrating Forest Restoration Awareness Day with a planting event
29 June 2023
@ Samoa Conservation Society
On June 29, Forest Restoration Awareness Day, the Samoa Conservation Society commemorated its tenth anniversary!
For this occasion, the group went to the Togitogiga Nursery, which is used for seedling collection and propagation. Collectively, about 500 Samoan native plants were planted and a trip around the park's coastal path, stopping along the way to view and learn about the many native plants and wildlife.
What were the goals for the day?
- Increase public understanding of the #OLPPNP, forest restoration, and risks to it, particularly invasive species and climate change.
- Inform students in the neighborhood schools on the significance of Samoa's ecology, biodiversity, and geology in the #OLPPNP.
- Encourage awareness of the effects of climate change and ways to lessen risk and vulnerability to it.
- Identify the main sources of emissions in supply chains so that the appropriate parties are aware and may take appropriate action to minimize emissions.
The Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort team contributed to the protection of the dunes
24 May 2023
On May 24, 2023, staff from the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort contributed to the protection of the dunes at the National Park.
It gave the national park ranger team an opportunity to celebrate (belatedly) International Day of Biodiversity and introduce the project to a new public.
The Outrigger team and a few of their guests joined the ranger team to contribute to the protection of the sand dunes, by fortifying the park’s new firebreak through the planting of a fire-resistant tree species. This is part of biodiversity conservation and critical to the protection of the park. Together, the team Outrigger and the ranger team planted 75 teak saplings along the park’s Cece Gully. These saplings will complement the role of the firebreak once they reach a good height and help stop the spread of fires into the park. Fire to date is still one of the biggest threats to the National Park.
The Cece Gully is also the site for the agroforestry component of the park’s project, where planting of fruit trees has already begun. This site is part of the resilience building, in terms of food security for the nearby community. Having a good firebreak around the perimeter of this gully is so critical. We are hoping that in two years’ time, this gully will be populated with many fruit trees beneficial to the park’s wildlife and the community.
Workshop to introduce the Kiwa Initiative to the communities
25 October 2022
About 40 community members from the villages of Poutasi, Saleilua & Saaga on the south coast of Upolu attended a workshop on October 20 to celebrate together with the Forestry Division of MNRE, the continuation of Restoration work for the O Le Pupu Pue National Park. The restoration project for the park started in 2016 and was funded in 2018 under a UNDP SGP grant, and later under a US Forest Service Pacific Islands Forest Restoration Initiative (PIFRI) grant from 2020 -2021.
Since 2016 we have planted more than 25,000 trees in the park and restored around 10ha (25 acres) of degraded forest. The Samoa Conservation Society recently secured further funding for the next 18 months thanks to the Kiwa Initiative.
The workshop focused on the introduction of the Kiwa Initiative and how communities will benefit from the project. The Kiwa Initiative is a financial support for the O le Pupu Pu’e NP, the first National Park in Samoa and the South Pacific region. About 60% of the project’s budget will be focused on restoration work and the rest will be on the conservation of Samoan threatened species such as the Manumea, Samoa’s National Bird and the Niu vao, or endemic bush palm. The work is guided by the OLPP NP Management Plan (MNRE – 2016), the Mapping of fue lautetele (Merremia peltata) in the park and recommendations for management (Asia Air Survey 2014) and the Operational Plan for Park Restoration (MNRE 2010). Around 6% of the park, or about 240 Ha, is in need of restoration due to cyclone damage and the spread of invasive weeds, such as Fue lautetele.
Management and restoration of O Le Pupu Pue National Park
Samoa Conservation Society (Inc.)
Amount of funding:
The project wil focus on the improved conservation and restoration of the O le Pupu Pue National, the first NP in the South Pacific. Large areas of the OLPP NP are degraded from cyclones, exacerbated by climate change, and the spread of invasive weeds, especially Merremia peltata, a vine that suppresses forest recovery and covers around 240 Ha (6%) of the park.
The Government of Samoa, who owns the park, currently has limited capacity to manage the park and to restore it. The project will work with local communties to continue the restoration of the park, to conserve threatened species and to ensure that the conservation of the park is adequately and sustainably financed over the long term. The project is a case study for developing innovative public-private partnerships and sources of finance for park management in Samoa with lessons and recommendations of relevance to PAs across the Pacific region.
The project will ‘upgrade’ Samoa’s only carbon offset project to international standards and continue to build local capabilities for forest restoration (e.g., expand nursery, equipment &training). It will also demonstrate restoration activities (land preparation and planting) and test technical specifications for restoration of areas dominated by M.peltata, an invasive vine that has spread as a result of repeated cyclones exacerbated by climate change.
Lessons learned from this project can be applied throughout Samoa where M.peltata now dominates in lowland forest degraded by cyclones. Our work is guided by the OLPP NP Management plan as well as the OLPP Operational Plan andalso the mapping of M.peltata in the park and recommendations for management.
Since 2016 we have planted around 25,000 trees in the OLPP and restored around 10 Ha of degraded land. This project will build on these achievements with the planting of a further 10,000 trees and the restoration of another 4Ha of land. We have a tried and tested methodology for restoration that relies on close plantings of fast growing native trees that shade out invasive weeds within 2 or 3 years, thereby accelerating forest recovery.
The project will benefit from the lessons learnt from our previous work. Trees on average absorb 22kg CO2 /year or 228kg CO2 over a medium life (10 years). Based on work in Samoa, approximately 10 tala (4 USD) is needed to plant and maintain one tree for 10 years. Ten thousand trees are expected to eventually absorb around 2280 tons of CO2 when fully grown, making a major contribution to Samoa’s NDC targets. Thus our project will achieve climate change adaptation outcomes (restoration of degraded rainforest and increased ecosystem resilience) as well as mitigation outcomes (absorption of significant amounts of CO2 from trees planted).
The key monitoring indicators we will use for the project are the following:
- Monitoring of trees planted and mortality rates and refiling (replacing dead seedlings)
- Mapping using GPS of all restored areas
- Monitoring of M.peltata distribution and reinvasion of restored native forest
- Photopoints to visually record each restoration site every 6 months at set positions (involves taking photos at each site every 6 months in all cardinal directions)
- Pre and post project surveys and questionnaires of the knowledge gained by the trained youth
- Surveys of the population and distribution of target threatened species, including Tooth-billed pigeon or Manumea and the endemic bush palm or Niu Vao.
Project objectives ?
- Improve the conservation status of the OLPP NP through restoration and threatened species conservation actions
- Increased capacity and participation from communities and benefits from park management
- Create a ‘proof of concept ’ to demonstrate new ways to sustainably finance protected area management in Samoa and the Pacific
The project directly aligns with and supports national conservation strategies such as Samoa’s NBSAP (MNRE 2015), as well as Samoa’s National Invasive Species Strategy an Action Plan (MNRE 2019) and the OLPP NP management plan (MNRE 2010) which all call for park restoration and invasive species management. It is also a contribution to the “Pathway for the Development of Samoa 2021-2025” (GoS 2022), in particular Key Priority Area 17: Enhanced Conservation and Sustainable Use of Natural Resources, Samoa’s NDC targets (MNRE 2021) as well as the “Three million trees program” which was launched in early 2022 and which builds on the successful “Two million trees campaign” which ended in 2020.