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What about climate change? This is what the admin thinks …


Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Climate change is the major focus of the administration when reporting on the State of the Environment in its 2024 State of the Territory Comprehensive Report. It reports that “climate change is an imminent reality with extensive global, regional, and local consequences, posing a threat to the stability of the region through shifts in climate and weather patterns.”

Further, it states that “the increasing number of village communities and residents in the area shoulder the weight of adverse impacts and costs linked to rising sea levels, substantial land and coastal erosion, scarcity of food and water, pollution, diseases, and health issues.”

One of the Administration’s major tools launched in 2023 to manage the Territory’s environment was the successful launch of a web mapping application to assist the Project Notification Review System (PNRS) to pre-scope proposed projects to review possible environmental impacts and setbacks.

“The board members are also able to view and access stop orders issued by the PNRS enforcement team.

“The map contains required features for all departments on the PNRS Board such as fire hydrants, water wells, archeological sites, food zones, wetlands, and power poles to name a few.”

Hand in hand is the continuation of the DOC’s Wetland Delineation project which is “essential to ASCMP’s efforts to protect and maintain wetlands of American Samoa, especially verifying boundaries for PNRS land use permitting system and update geographic information systems (GIS) layers in order for our coastal resources to be adequately protected.”

According the 2024 TCR, “the GIS User’s Group successfully launched the geospatial portal, http://asgis.maps, where data have been published and shared.

“Partner agencies and departments have access to the data on ArcGIS Online, and an open data site is available at a local, state, and national level.

“In addition, the website is hyperlinked as an available public tool on the American Samoa Department of Commerce website.”

In real time, this tool provided “mapping support for the Emergency Operations Center as authorities declared a state of emergency due to damages from strong winds and high waves in July.

“The American Samoa Department of Homeland Security (ASDHS) and FEMA conducted site visits in Tutuila, Aunu’u, and Manu’a with the GIS team.

“The team generated maps and reports of damage assessments for individual and public assistance.”

Evacuation maps are also a part of the DOC mapping work, and in 2023 work was underway for the village of Pago Pago, mapping possible assembly areas in the event of a tsunami, bridges, places of interest, and other features of interest.

The use of GPS to look at what’s going on with American Samoa’s biodiversity and conservation efforts took off in 2023, with the office able to show its invasive species management efforts on “controlling three invasive bird species and the non-native African Tulip tree, already prevalent on Tutuila.”

Removing myna and bulbul bird populations were shown to be mainly concentrated in the Futiga landfill and Tafuna area, where the bulk of the bird population is seen to be located.

Neutralization of the highly invasive African Tulip Tree can be seen on the GIS map and “will guide the field crew during future visits to remove new seedlings and saplings at the treated areas.”

The mapping work could probably also be used by the Zoning Board, according to residents in American Samoa.