During July and August, Conservation International is leading ecological surveys along with Samoan government staff and local community members as part of a government initiative aimed at establishing baseline biological indicators to assess climate change and better manage the area.
These surveys or Biological Rapid Assessment Program (BIORAP) in Samoa, for the first time will include an assessment of the species living on some of Samoa’s coastline. The surveys will show where important coastal fauna live around Samoa, including species such as pipi (cockles), loli (sea cucumber) and sisi (snails). The surveys will focus on regions in Samoa classified as “Key Biodiversity Areas” (KBAs). These areas consist mostly of areas inland, where good-quality forests are found, but the coastal surveys this year (occur between the high and low tide marks) will also show if populations of fauna along the coastline of KBAs are in good health.
A local community member displays a loli found at the site
Fishermen from the local communities have been engaged to assist in the surveys to gain important local knowledge about the coastal resources they use. So far, surveys across the coastline of Falealupo have already been done with community members directing where populations of shellfish occur that can be targeted for the surveys. It is positive that healthy populations of shellfish were found close to villages, indicating that the community has been using these natural resources sustainably.
The coastal surveys will conclude at Uafato in August, when the KBA in that region is assessed. The results of all surveys will show where large populations of shellfish are remaining, and where areas of diverse species occur. The information will be used for conservation planning. It can be used as a “baseline” with which future measurements can be compared. Conservation International is hopeful that with good management, stable or increasing future trends will occur in the health of Samoa’s coastal resources.