This summary of forest resources on the islands of American Samoa is based on a pilot inventory, conducted in 2001, to test field data collection methods in the tropical Pacific. The USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) in cooperation with Pacific Island foresters uses the inventory to help answer local and national questions about the status and trends in tropical forests. The fieldwork for this project was conducted primarily by American Samoa foresters with assistance from two mainland FIA foresters, which allowed the exchange of skills among cultures and agencies.
The FIA Program conducts a systematic, sample-based, field inventory across all ownerships in the Pacific Islands on a periodic basis. Prior inventory work in American Samoa concentrated on developing a vegetation type map and assessing tree volumes for forest types. The current effort estimates the area of forest types, tree size distribution, volume, biomass, rooting and crown characteristics, and damages for living and dead trees. The inventory helps resource managers define the extent, size distribution, and species composition of their forested and nonforested lands, and after remeasurement, the change in their resources. Empirically based knowledge of the status and trends in forest vegetation can help managers plan sustainable supplies of wood, control invasive species, control erosion, and manage disturbances such as fire and animal damage.