Submitted by angelicas on Thu, 10/22/2020 - 14:44
Building capacity to map protected and conserved areas in Samoa
October 22, 2020 by angelicas
Island and Ocean Ecosystems

A two-day training co-organised and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Samoa Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) was successfully conducted for government officers last week. The training objective was to strengthen the capacity of government personnel to use geographic information systems (GIS). Participants learned how to utilise free, open source GIS software and records of spatial data in the field to produce basic maps of protected and conserved areas.

According to the Assistant Chief Executive Officer – Environment, MNRE, Mr Seumalo Afele Faiilagi, the GIS refresher training was a timely follow up for MNRE technical staff, including staff from other government Ministries involved in protected areas related work.

“This was a great opportunity to build the capacity of our newly recruited officers who will be involved in protected areas and biodiversity conservation work. With the current COVID-19 situation we are fortunate that SPREP is based in Samoa and is providing continuous support and technical assistance through the BIOPAMA Programme. On behalf of our Ministry, we are grateful for this assistance and support,” said Mr Faiilagi.

“The training has strengthened our capability in the application of new technology and tools that will improve our current work on the establishment and management of protected area networks and nature reserves, including wider biodiversity conservation efforts with more reliable data and information available for decision making and to support effective planning.”

Participants interacting on the GIS application activity

An earlier training was conducted in February this year which covered the basic fundamentals and best practice of GIS, and also provided hands on, practical skills in capturing data while out in the field using handheld global positioning system (GPS) units and uploading of field data to the QGIS software to produce basic site maps. This training served as a follow up training to enable those who participated in the earlier training to refresh and sharpen their skills in the use of QGIS and field data capture, as well as train newly recruited officers.

“I am grateful for the opportunity provided to enhance my existing GIS-related skills and knowledge, which will continue to assist me with my current work on forestry mapping,” said Ms Lareina Tago, Senior Forestry Management Officer of the MNRE Forestry Division who participated in the training.

‘’We are happy to be able to provide this follow up training on the GIS-related skills for the government of Samoa. This training has increased the current pool of local GIS-related expertise and will facilitate more accurate mapping of protected and conserved areas for Samoa. We will provide further follow up technical support and mentoring of participants during the post-training period as needed,” said Mr Vainuupo Jungblut, Protected Areas Officer at SPREP.

The follow up training on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for improved protected area planning and management in Samoa was held from the 6-7 October 2020 and funded through the BIOPAMA Programme, an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States financed by the European Union 11th European Development Fund. The training was conducted by SPREP in its capacity as the BIOPAMA regional resource and data hub for the Pacific, fulfilling its role to deliver capacity building initiatives and training programmes in the use of BIOPAMA supported tools and services.


BIOPAMA in the Pacific is implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in partnership with SPREP and the European Commission Joint Research Centre. This partnership has seen significant enhancements of the Pacific Islands Protected Area Portal, the region’s one-stop resource for protected area information. The training was delivered remotely by Bradley Eichelberger, the PIPAP GIS Specialist consultant (under the BIOPAMA Programme based in Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) in collaboration with the GEF funded regional Inform Project, implemented through UN Environment and executed by SPREP.

For more information on the BIOPAMA regional resource and data hub, please contact Mr. Vainuupo Jungblut, Protected Areas Officer on email: [email protected]. 

For more information on the Inform Project and national environment data portals, please contact the Inform team via [email protected].