American Samoa, the only territory of the United States south of the Equator, is located
in the Pacific Ocean about 2,500 miles south of Hawaii and 1,600 miles northeast of New
Zealand. The natural vegetation of American Samoa is tropical rainforest, due to the warm climate and year-round rainfall. Forests provide American Samoa’s residents with numerous ecological, cultural, and economic values. Development of the American Samoa Forest Action Plan was a collaborative and iterative process. The American Samoa Community College Division of Community and Natural Resources (ASCC CNR) solicited involvement from local stakeholders and experts throughout the process. The plan describes the general conditions and trends in American Samoa’s forest resources and threats to those resources, identifies critical issues and delineates priority landscapes.
The coral reefs that surround the islands of American Samoa are important sources of seafood, protection from waves, and natural beauty. The reefs are threatened by activities on land that contribute to sediment deposition and excessive nutrients in the sea water. These problems are intensified with increased clearing of steep lands and riparian zones and production of high input crops such as vegetables. Soil conservation practices on agroforestry land, including use of contour hedgerows and appropriate vegetative cover and trees, can help reduce sediment runoff. Better crop selection and soil fertility management practices can reduce nutrient throughput. Forestry and agriculture extension agents need a toolkit of proven best management practices that agroforesters can apply on the land they farm.
American Samoa’s wetlands, including coastal mangroves and freshwater marshes and swamps, are important for flood control, groundwater replenishment, shoreline protection, and conservation of plants and animals. They are threatened by filling for development and by sedimentation and nutrient overload from agroforestry. It is important to conserve remaining wetlands and restore degraded ones. Our Forest Action Plan will help to identify and promote best management practices to conserve soil and reduce nutrient runoff in agroforestry areas, on steep slopes, riparian zones, and coastal shorelines, conduct collaborative research on mangrove reintroduction and restoration methodologies, work with collaborators to plan and implement mangrove reintroduction and restoration trials.
In American Samoa the urban forest is comprised of trees growing in villages and other residential, commercial, and government areas. This urban forest provides shade, food, protection from wind and waves, wildlife habitat, traditional construction materials, and natural beauty. A healthy, well-planned and skillfully managed urban forest provides all these benefits safely and economically. We will work with villages, families, government agencies, schools, and the college to increase native trees in urban and coastal zones, promote agroforestry in urban zones to prevent clearing upslope, and demonstrate shoreline stabilization using native plants, among other strategies.