06 October 2023, Apia Samoa - Officials from various Ministries of the Samoan government have been equipped with cutting-edge skills in drone technology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which they will be able to put to good use for environmental monitoring and management to benefit the communities they serve.
This follows a two-day Drone Training programme and a one-day session on GIS at SPREP’s headquarters at Vailima from 27 September – 29 September 2023. Funded by the UN Joint Programme Building Forward Better by Safeguarding Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services project (UNJP SESS) project, the training was organised by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE).
SPREP’s Director General, Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, emphasised the interrelation in environmental monitoring and management, and highlighted the remarkable progress in drone technology.
“The exponential advancement of drone technology has brought us to a point where the sky is no longer the limit but a vast canvas of opportunity. This gathering signifies a momentous achievement in our joint endeavours to confront the urgent environmental issues that impact our region and the global community,” Mr Nawadra said.
The Assistant Chief Executive Officer Environment Conservation Division of MNRE, Mr Seumalo Afele Faiilagi, welcomed the opportunity for officials from MNRE and other Samoan Government ministries to build their capacity to address some of the challenges in the services they provide for Samoa.
“MNRE expresses our gratitude for SPREP's invaluable support in enhancing data management capabilities through the use of drone technology and the GIS training.”
The training immersed a diverse group of government personnel from various ministries in a comprehensive curriculum, enhancing their skills in drone operation, data analysis, and environmental assessment techniques.
For some, the experience was entirely new, involving hands-on sessions to master drone piloting and real-world scenarios in aerial imagery capture, terrain mapping, and surveys, thus emphasising the training's comprehensive nature and practical significance. Participants were eager to harness the potential of cutting-edge technologies for environmental conservation through interactive sessions, live demonstrations, and collaborative exercises to gain a holistic understanding of how drone technology and GIS can be synergistically utilised to address environmental challenges.
Sky Eye Pacific, a prominent drone technology solutions provider in Samoa, facilitated the first two days of the training, focusing specifically on drone operations.
Significantly, on the final day of the training, the SPREP GIS team provided in-depth exploration of Geographic Information Systems and their critical role in amplifying the effectiveness and application of drone-generated data. Participants learned how GIS technology could seamlessly integrate with drone mapping, thereby enhancing the depth and breadth of environmental analysis. This holistic approach, uniting the power of drone technology with the analytical capabilities of GIS, holds immense potential for supporting Samoa's environmental stewardship efforts.
The close partnership between SPREP and MNRE underscores the collective commitment of government agencies and regional organisations to bolster capacity in environmental management in the region. By combining the strengths of GIS and drone mapping, the training programme not only equipped participants with practical skills but also fostered a deeper understanding of the synergy between these technologies. The training concluded with the presentation of certificates of completion by SkyEye Pacific, in recognition of the dedication and proficiency of the participants. These certificates serve as a testament to the enhanced capabilities of the trainees and their potential to make a lasting tangible impact in the field of environmental management.
The training stands as a symbol of collaborative efforts and enduring commitment to environmental conservation endeavours. All under the auspices of SPREP, the training was also technically supported by the ACP MEAs Programme, Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme and the UNEP-led GCF funded program for 5 island countries of the Pacific Ocean (UNEPCISPac5 project).
To find out more about the UNJP SESS Project, please contact Mr. Vainuupo Jungblut at [email protected]
For more information about the UNEPCISPac5 project please contact Mr. Tavita Sua at [email protected]
For the ACP/MEA3 project, please contact Mrs Vani Koroisamanunu at [email protected]
For the BIOPAMA programme, please contact Mrs. Kasaqa Tora at [email protected]