Magazine article E Magazine

Samoans Fight Loggers - and Win

Magazine article E Magazine

Samoans Fight Loggers - and Win

Article excerpt

In 1989, the government of Western Samoa directed the village of Falealupo to build a new school. Located on the island of Savaii, 2,800 miles south of Hawaii, the village couldn't find the money, so Chief Fuiono Senio and the elders reluctantly sold logging rights to 30,000 acres of tropical hardwoods for $2.50 per acre.

Since about 80 percent of the lowlands on the volcanic island had already been logged, and about one-third of its higher plants are found nowhere else, the contract spelled doom for many unique plants and animals.

So when bulldozers began toppling the first few acres of primary rainforest, Chief Fuiono asked an ethnobotanist friend for help. For Paul Alan Cox, a professor of botany at Brigham Young University who had worked in Samoa for 15 years, it was a defining moment. After watching the whole village weeping over the loss, he decided to personally guarantee the money for the school. Chief Fuiono then grabbed his machete, ran six miles through the forest, and, standing in front of a bulldozer, told the logging crew that they would become "the dust of the earth" if they toppled another tree. The crew departed.

So instead of becoming a tropical clearcut, that 30,000 acres of rainforest became one of the world's first indigenous-controlled forest reserves. "We are the guardians of the rainforest on our island," Senio said in an interview. "Every single plant has meaning and significance for us." More than beauty and biodiversity is at stake in these forests. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.