|Talie Foliga, MNRE, Samoa at the Ramsar COP 11 plenary|
9 July, 2012, Bucharest, Romania – Samoa is lending its voice to that of over 100 countries attending a global conference on wetlands in Romania this week.
The 11th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has over 1,000 delegates, donors and partners meeting to discuss ways to strengthen the wise use of wetlands around the world, as one of the contracting parties to this convention Samoa’s presence is important.
“We want to ensure Samoa has contributed to the discussions of the draft resolutions that will guide the work of the Convention in the next triennium,” said Talie Foliga of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa.
“Being here is also an opportunity for us to learn from other parties about their success stories, challenges and the problems they have faced and overcome when implementing activities under the Ramsar Convention.”
Lake Lanoto’o National Park, consisting of 500 hectares was established in 1971. Nearly 10 years later in 2005 the Park was established as the Ramsar Wetland site of importance in Samoa. Managing the site over the years has provided its challenges and it’s here in Romania that Foliga hopes he can take lessons learnt from other countries and apply those at the national level in Samoa.
The national park lives in the central highlands of Upolu and consists of three small crater lakes which support fringing herbaceous marsh and swamp forest. The lakes are among the few remaining near-pristine lakes in Samoa and are critical to maintaining the health of the watershed of the capital city, Apia. The forests of the National Park contained threatened endemic bird species including the Tooth Billed Pigeon, the Mao and the Samoan Triller.
Right now the main challenges faced in managing the national park are the lack of resources along with those that come with having different owners of the land in the park.
“We plan to bring all landowners and stakeholders together to discuss ways forward to continue conserving the land within the Lake Lanoto’o National Park, here at the Ramsar meeting we hope to gain some guidance as to how we can sustainably finance the park. Right now it is funded by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and we seek partnership from regional organisations and outside donors.”
Samoa received funding under the Ramsar Small Grants fund to improve and strengthen the trails as well as develop signage for the park. The next steps will include preparing project proposals to seek funds to help manage the park, finalise the Ramsar Information Sheet, confirm the Management plan of the Park and complete the progress report required under the Ramsar Convention.
Samoa is one of seven Pacific nations that make up the Oceania group under the Ramsar Convention - others include Australia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Palau and Papua New Guinea.