INVASIVE SPECIES ERADICATION TEAM WORKS TO WIPE OUT TAMALIGI
Members of the National Park of American Samoa Invasive Species eradication team are hard at work destroying a significant number of juvenile ‘Tamaligi’ trees in Fagasa.
According to Fagasa resident Evelyn Lili’o Satele, the team responded immediately to a phone call she made to the National Park, where Tavita Togia, who oversees the invasive species eradication projects, dispatched a team to address the problem.
Evelyn told Togia that she had noticed a new infestation of the highly invasive trees following the rains. (According to scientists who study similar species in New Zealand, the seeds can lie dormant for up to 50 years.) And recently, she noticed many juvenile trees in one area.
“They grow quickly, and deprive the soil of its nutrients, while at the same time, they overshadow the native trees. Because of their shallow root system, they are easily blown over in storms, leaving behind serious potential for landslides,” she explained.
The village of Fagasa has a long-standing relationship with the National Park in its efforts to eradicate the highly invasive Tamaligi, which are believed to have been introduced through independent Samoa approximately 60 years ago. Since that time, the trees have produced numerous seed beds, which lie dormant until backhoes or hurricanes dig them up.
Since its introduction into the Samoan archipelago, the tree has taken over huge areas of the mountainside on several islands. The process of destroying the trees is labor intensive, as they cannot simply be chopped down, but must be stripped or “girdled” instead.
A recent forest restoration project funded by the US Department of the Interior - Office of Insular Affairs was completed by the park staff which saw the eradication of 1,700 Tamaligi trees from Laulii to Utulei. Togia says he appreciates community members contacting them about invasive species, and encourages everyone who sees these trees to contact the National Park at 633-7082, ext 50.
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