High Chief Fuiono Senio (d. 1997) was the primary advocate for preserving the forest. After a lengthy debate, Fuiono persuaded his fellow village chiefs to accept Cox’s offer. He then ran three miles with a machete in hand to stop the loggers. After six months, Cox raised the required funds and the Falealupo Covenant was signed. In this agreement, donors pledged to build the school in exchange for the village’s promise to continue to protect the rainforest for a 50-year period. It allows villagers to continue to use the forest for medicinal plants, kava bowls, canoe construction, and other cultural purposes, but forbids any damaging activities.
The school was built and the 30,000 acre Falealupo Rainforest Preserve was established. On May 17, 1997, shortly after receiving the Goldman Prize, Fuiono Senio died from complications due to cancer.
Cox subsequently helped create an additional 20,000-acre rainforest preserve in Tafua, also on the island of Savai’i. He has served as director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawai’i and Florida and, in 1996, was awarded the King Carl XVI Gustaf Professorship of Environmental Science at the Swedish Biodiversity Centre. Cox is now board chair at Seacology, a nonprofit based in Berkeley, California, which preserve the environments and cultures of islands throughout the world.