Interior provides Am Samoa about $400K to help combat the Lopa Tree
WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week Interior Acting Assistant Secretary Nikolao Pula has made available approximately $4 million for several invasive species prevention and control initiatives in the U.S. Insular Areas. The funding includes around $400K to combat infestations of the Lopa tree, Adenanthera pavonina; to reduce impacts of invasive birds and restore wetland areas in Nuu’uli, American Samoa.
Funding has also been provided to continue support in controlling the brown tree snake (BTS), Boiga irregularis, on Guam and prevent its spread to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Hawai’i, and the larger Micronesian region, as well as combat infestations of the little fire ant (LFA), Wasmannia auropunctata, on Guam.
“Invasive species, of which the brown tree snake is the most widely known in the Pacific region, have had damaging effects on the fragile ecosystems in the islands,” said Pula. “It is critical to protect, build resilience, and restore natural resources that provide the foundation for people’s livelihood and stability in these islands.”
In order to prevent, eradicate, and control invasive species as well as to protect and restore natural and cultural resources from the effects of invasive species, the Governors of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands all signed a Memorandum of Understanding last December with the Office of Insular Affairs creating the U.S. Territories Invasive Species Coordinating Committee (USTISCC).
Each territory has appointed an official to the USTISCC and has published a territorial invasive species management plan.
The Office of Insular Affairs also collaborates closely with the National Invasive Species Council (NISC) Secretariat. The NISC, an interdepartmental body comprising senior Federal officials, provides the high-level vision and leadership necessary to sustain and expand Federal efforts to safeguard interests of the United States by preventing, eradicating, and controlling invasive species, as well as restoring ecosystems and other assets impacted by invasive species.
On behalf of the Department of the Navy and other relevant Federal agencies, the NISC Secretariat is coordinating an update to the Regional Biosecurity Plan for Micronesia and Hawaii, which is due in March 2018 and every three years thereafter. The RBP update will take the new territory invasive species plans, as well as a recently released Hawaii biosecurity plan, into careful consideration.
According to the DOI press release the Lopa Tree eradication project in American Samoa has been awarded $397,362.
It said, “The American Samoa Government and the National Park of American Samoa are collaborating to completely eliminate the Lopa tree from approximately 3,058 acres on Ofu and Olosega Islands.
“This is the final phase of a project that has involved village leaders, community members and youth and has been successful in removing more than 31,454 Tamaligi and Lopa trees across the Tutuila and Ta’u Islands reclaiming over 14,000 acres of rainforest in American Samoa,” it said.
It continued, “The native forests provide critical food and medicinal resources, protection for native plants and animal species, and protection against storms.
“Funds will also be used to curb spread of the non-native Myna and Bulbul, birds intentionally introduced to control insects but which have since overtaken native bird populations in numbers and harbor disease and parasites.
“A third component of the project is to conduct stream and wetland restoration and clean up — restoring native plants and removing non-native weeds. Restorations will restore the wetland and rainforest canopies, reduce soil erosion, restore food and habitat, as well as prevent runoff from damaging coastal resources.”
The other two projects received the following — the Brown Tree Snake Control and Prevention project, $3,548,057 and the Little Fire Ant Infestation project on Guam, $250,000.