The Bird team is the earliest to rise on day 1 of the fieldwork: bird experts Mark O'Brien (Birdlife International Fiji) and Vilikesa Masibalavu (CI Fiji) led the team of 9 in the lowland forests of Falealupo, wishing to catch sight of some morning bird activities. Following the Bird team, were the Reptile and Plant teams who also surveyed the area, all of whom collected data in the area throughout the day.
Mark O'Brien is describing the findings he has with CI's Schannel van Dijken
There was also a coastal survey undertaken. Working with community members at Falealupo's balmy coral coast, CI's marine biologist Kiran Liversage found some positive results for the quantity of the species that are important food sources for the local communities, such as pipi (cockles), loli (sea cucumber) and sisi (snails). With many coastal areas in Samoa being over-harvested, it was pleasing to see that the natural resources along the Falealupo shoreline are still abundant.
In addition to survey work, yesterday is an important day for community consultation. CI's Schannel van Dijken and Danita Strickland, together with MNRE project leads Seumalo Afele Faiilagi and Tofulau Tepa Suaesi attended a village council meeting with several village chiefs at Falealupo. At this meeting, CI and MNRE shared more details on the BIORAP surveys and the overall 'Strengthening Multi-Sectoral Management of Critical Landscapes' project. They also took questions and discussed any concerns the village leaders may have had about the survey.
Traditional awa serving during the community consultation meeting
The meeting with the village leaders was very productive with village chiefs expressing support for the survey and project objectives, just as high chief Aaeu said, "We are so grateful for the opportunity to meet with you people this morning. And now the village is so happy and grateful for the shared knowledge and understanding. Now we understand the whole purpose of this (BIORAP) is to help us preserve and conserve the environment".