2022 American Samoa Forest Inventory and Analysis Completed


By Daniel Helsham, ASCC - ACNR

“Members of the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Project at the Closing Ceremony held at the ASCC-ACNR Conference Room. The FIA is used to monitor and measure the health, condition, and trends of the forests in American Samoa.”  Photo: ASCC-ACNR

          The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) – Agriculture, Community and Natural Resources (ACNR) Forestry Program, in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) – U.S Forest Service (USFS) has completed the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) project for American Samoa. Implemented every ten years, the last FIA in the territory was in 2012.

          The plots in American Samoa are part of a nationwide permanent plot network that extends throughout all 50 states and associated territories. The FIA protocol is a standardized, reliable, and repeatable method for collecting forest inventory data, which is used to monitor and measure the health, condition, and trends of forests. The data collected from the FIA can answer questions about tree species, size, and overall health, tree growth and mortality, carbon storage; changes in forest cover and use over time; and the presence and severity of invasive plants and pathogens such as Lopa, Tamaligi, Pulu Vao, and Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles. The

inventory data can also be used by landowners, policy makers, environmental agencies, and students to understand the past, present, and future conditions of the forests in American Samoa.

          The FIA data collection team consisted of Ashley Lehman, Jonathan Marshall, Matthew O’Driscoll, Mikhail Yakstov, Seth Ayotte, Steve Trimble, and Patrick Baird from the USFS; Matt Terlaje and Matt Van Cruz from the University of Guam; Adam Miles and Ace Lalogafu’afu’a from the Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources; Anthony Wyberski, Simon Leo, and Siuleo Pouesi from the ASNPS; ASCC-ACNR GIS Specialist Neil Gurr; ASCC-ACNR Forestry Program Manager Denis Sene Jr. and staff Simon Stowers, Uiki Isaako, Fa’afo’i Tony Maugalei, and Pasia Setu; and ASCC-ACNR Forestry interns Cher Nomura, Lessie Fualau, Pua Tofaeono, Ime Mata’utia, Gideon Brosius, Talofa Fe’a, and Folasa Galea’i. The project took about two months to complete, requiring extensive hiking to enable the surveying many of the territory’s steep and dangerous slopes and thick forests. The plot survey included procedures such as measuring tree diameters, forest canopy, epiphytes, saplings, and more. A total of 72 randomly selected plots were scattered across American Samoa, with 46 in Tutuila, 19 in Ta’u, six in Ofu and Olosega, and one in Aunu’u. Out of these 47 plots in Tutuila & Aunu’u, a total of 43 were surveyed, two were denied access, and two were labeled hazardous. For 25 Manu’a plots, 16 were surveyed and nine were labeled hazardous.

          “American Samoa has one of the most incredible forests I’ve ever seen and worked in,” said FIA Lead Ashley Lehman. “I have worked with such wonderful people and learned so much from them, and I hope to return again to continue the good work we’ve all done.” Some of the highlighted discoveries from this project for the FIA participants included the large trees and open forests on the ridges east of Fagamalo and Aoloau; the tavai forests in Ofu with large trees and no wasps or mosquitos; and seeing historic villages, trails, and old house foundations in the mountains of Tutuila and Ta’u.

          “The FIA was a great opportunity for me to learn about our forests and understand what our local and federal experts do to protect and manage them,” said ASCC-ACNR Forestry Intern Lessie Fualau. The ASCC-ACNR Forestry Program and FIA Program would like to thank the people of American Samoa for their support and assistance with this project. The programs also thank ASCC President Dr. Rosevonne Pato, DMWR Director Taotasi Archie Soliai, ASNPS Superintendent Scott Burch, Secretary PC Mauga Tasi Asuega and Deputy Secretary HTC Tauese Vaaomala Sunia of the Office of Samoan Affairs, village mayors and villagers, landowners, and volunteers for their collaboration on this project.

          “The project itself was difficult, but working with an amazing team and colleagues made it enlightening and productive,” said ASCC-ACNR Forestry Program Manager Denis Sene Jr. “I’m proud of the hard work we’ve done, and I look forward to sharing the project’s outcome with the public.” The next FIA project will be in 2032 and the current project report will be published in the next six months. For more information about the ASCC-ACNR Forestry program and its services, contact the ASCC-ACNR Forestry Program Manager Denis Sene at 699-1575 or by email at: d.sene@amsamoa.edu.