A new mangrove trail along the coast of Vaiteolo village in Wallis and Futuna was launched this month which highlights the value and fragility of mangrove ecosystems.
The 800-meter long trail leads to a fresh water source that holds significant importance to the history of the community, supports the efforts made by village associations to plant mangrove trees along the coast of Wallis. It was coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP’s) Pacific Biodiversity Blue Belt project on a BEST2.0 Medium Grant.
There are eight informational signs placed along the length of the trail, which students on field trips or tourists on tours can use to garner more knowledge on the importance of mangrove ecosystems.
Starting with a map and a short description of the trail, each sign that follows has a different subject which helps provide more information on the bird, crustacean and fish species in Wallis and Futuna. Signs also explain the two mangrove species found in Wallis and the behaviours to adopt to protect mangroves. The trail ends with the sign for the fresh water source.
The signs are translated in three languages, English, French and Wallisian.
“This trail shows our culture and our biodiversity. The starting point is an important cultural site for the entire island,” said Ms Matilite Tali, President of the Federation of Associations.
Dignitaries present at the official launch of the trail included politicians from the French government as well as customary village chiefs and students from local schools, who were given the very first tour of the trail. The event was covered by the local TV channel and is available online through the following link: https://m.la1ere.francetvinfo.fr/wallisfutuna/decouverte-du-sentier-botanique-vaitauolo-wallis-627638.html
The idea for the trail stems from an initiative launched by the Vaiteolo village earlier this year and was completed on the 14 September, 2018.
The Pacific Biodiversity Blue Belt Project was launched in May 2016, funded by the European Union and implemented by SPREP in partnership with the French Agency for Biodiversity (AFB). The project aims to support Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in the Pacific , these being New Caledonia, Wallis et Futuna, French Polynesia and Pitcairn, in their efforts to achieve their objectives in protecting marine and coastal ecosystems.
The project coordinates regional and national activities and offers financial support to the four OCTs towards implementing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), a study of surveillance tools for MPAs, increasing awareness on biodiversity issues through underwater and coastal trails and reinforcing ecotourism activities.