The villages of Uafato and Tiavea are giving full support in the conservation of their rainforests as the habitat of the near extinction manumea bird.
The manumea bird or tooth billed pigeon is a critically endangered species which lives only within and on the edges of the mature native forest. Its numbers have declined over the years mostly through loss of habitat and hunting and is now considered in danger of extinction.
Some of the largest and dense rainforest areas in Upolu are located at the villages of Uafato and Tiavea.
The show of support by the two villages became official with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding MOU during the first day of the National Environment Week between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment MNRE and the two villages.
The village representative (pulenuu) of Uafato Tuaoimaalii Osooso Tuimalatu said that the village already has put in place rules to help in the sustainability of the native forests.
One of these rules bans the cutting down of trees. Tuaoimaalii said this this rule is made to protect some of the species found in their rainforests which are protected under the law. One of these is the manumea bird.
To protect further the bird, shooting pigeons is not allowed in case they shoot the manumea accidentally which has been sighted in the Uafato’s rainforest.
An added benefit of the MOU Tuaoimaalii said is that it would raise the awareness of the people of their village about the benefits of taking care of the rainforests and the risks if they cut down the forests.
He added some of the native trees –the ifilele, maali, lagaali, talie and mosooi thrive in their rainforests and it would be unfortunate to see these lost if people cut down the forests.
The village pulenu’u welcomes the MOU with MNRE for it would give them the knowledge and the resources to help in their conservation efforts. “ We would benefit from this MOU,” Tuaoimaalii told Newsline.
An MOU with MNRE is also embraced by the village of Tiavea the village pulenu’u Sola Siuele Seuili.
Sola said that by signing this MOU it is now their responsibility to manage their resources like their rainforest and with the right expertise giving them help everything should go well.
Tiavea village like Uafato has prohibited shooting pigeons for fear of killing the manumea by mistake. The game of seugalupe has also been banned.
To preserve the habitat of the manumea there is no cutting down of the forest..
The MOUs was signed by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), Hon. Fiame Naomi and the village representatives.
Fiame in the opening of the National Environment Week 2019, emphasized on the importance of the agreement signed with the ministry’s expectation to assist in areas that need to be conserved.
“This year, the theme of the Environment Week is, ‘National Resilience through Environmental Sustainability-An Integrated Approach,’ highlighting the importance of partnerships and collaborative efforts towards sustainable development which in turn is pivotal to social and economic resilience of communities and the country as a whole,” Fiame said.
“This is particularly important given the current state of environmental degradation and the increasing impacts of climate change and natural disasters affecting the health and wellbeing of our societies.
“Today we open the Environment Week with activities including the launching of a number of documents for the sustainable management of the environment as highlighted in your programs, the signing of an agreement between the Ministry and the villages of Uafato and Tiavea on management actions towards a Key Biodiversity Area, as well as competitions geared towards the conservation of the environment and the endemic Manumea bird.”
The MOU signing was the only agreement signed at the launch of the National Environment Week on Monday.