Apia 12/10/2016 – The first Carbon Offset Project (COffset) for Samoa kick started its pilot phase this week in the villages of Poutasi, Saleilua and Saaga. Initiated by the Samoa Conservation Society in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) the Project pilots activities to offset carbon emissions from the transport sector, with a focus on air travel.
James Atherton, the Project Team Leader says the concept of the project is very simple. “All fossil-fuel powered vehicles including commercial ariplanes emit CO2 during operation. If you wanted to be “Carbon Neutral” you could then pay a carbon offset, in a sense you are paying for the emissions you are contributing to. Your payment would then be used in a project meant to reduce or sequester greenhouse gas emissions.”
Many airlines now have a “carbon offset” option when you book your flight. According to Atherton, because climate change is a non-localized problem, it doesn’t matter where the emissions are reduced. Greenhouse gases spread evenly throughout the atmosphere and reducing them anywhere contributes to protecting the climate. The same method can be used to offset the annual mileage accumulated by an automobile, or the emissions of a stationary source such as a power plant or even office power usage.
The COffset pilot phase began initial activities earlier this year funded by the carbon offset payments of three local donors to start the planting of over 500 trees at the Ole Pupu Pue National Park.
“We are aiming to offset 100,000 kg CO2 from air travel of 3 private donors. Samoa’s new COFFset project will help to restore our degraded forests, own up to our responsibilities, and involve communities through youth engagement,” said Atherton.
The initial phase of the project is implemented through the villages of Poutasi, Saleilua and Saaga. Staff from the Society and MNRE are working with young people and members of the community to replant and maintain areas replanted under COffset.
“Young people from the three villages are being trained in tree propagation and forest restoration and are doing all the restoration work,” Atherton said.
Forests in Samoa as in the Pacific continue to decline as a result of various threats these include logging, agricultural activity, the spread of invasive species and extreme weather events, especially cyclones. Samoa’s forest cover has gone down from around 75% in the 1950’s to less than 60% today. Some experts believe that a quarter of remaining forest is highly degraded and dominated by invasive plants such as fa’apasi, tamaligi, pulu vao, and pulu mamoe.
By focusing on replanting and restoring native forests, the project will also assist in promoting and preserving habitat and food for our native biodiversity including birds, flying foxes, reptiles and invertebrates which evolved with native plants and forests.
According to the President of Samoa Conservation Society Sala Josephine Stowers the project marks the beginning of what the Society hopes would be larger scale initiative in Samoa. “This pilot phase will demonstrate at a small scale the value of carbon offsetting and the involvement of communities in reforestation, essentially it paves the way for a larger project that targets more communities.”
For more information, contact:
Christine Tuioti, Samoa Conservation Society. E: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on SCS see https://samoaconservationsociety.wordpress.com/
Moeumu Uili, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
For more information on MNRE see: http://www.mnre.gov.ws/