Technical Report #170.
Ragone, D. and L.H. Lorence. November 2006. Botanical and
ethnobotanical inventories of the National Park of American Samoa
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The establishment of the National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) was
authorized by an Act of Congress in 1988 to "preserve and protect the
tropical forest and archaeological and cultural resources of American
Samoa, and of associated coral reefs, to maintain the habitat of flying
foxes, preserve the ecological balance of the Samoan tropical forest,
and consistent with the preservation of these resources, to provide for
the enjoyment of the unique resources of the tropical Samoa forest by
visitors from around the world."
The National Park Service (NPS) was also directed to
maintain traditional Samoan customs within the Park and to permit
traditional subsistence uses in the Park, with certain conditions (NPS
1997). Agriculture, gathering, or fishing within the Park are restricted
to native American Samoans and are limited in scope and location. They
must be carried out in areas customarily used for these purposes,
employing traditional tools and methods.
The concept of fa'asamoa is integral to managing the Park's
natural and cultural resources. Fa'asamoa means the traditional Samoan
way of life: respecting and adhering to the traditions and customs of
the Samoan culture. The matai system of lawful, chiefly authority is one
of the most important components of fa'asamoa.
The vegetation of the islands of American Samoa has been
extensively studied (Setchell 1924; Christophersen 1935, 1938; Amerson
et al. 1982; Cole et al. 1988; Whistler 1980, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998).
Several of these studies (Whistler 1980, 1995;Amerson et al. 1982) have
included the collection of quantitative data in various vegetation
communities, including some areas now within the boundaries of the Park.
Whistler (1980) and Amerson et al. (1982) established linear survey
routes and/or inventoried 41 study sites, including 20 on Tutuila, 10 on
Ta'u, four on Olosega, and two on Ofu. Due to time limitations, 13 of
the 41 sites were not sampled with plots; instead, diameter at breast
height (dbh) was estimated for a random number of trees with no actual
measurements taken. The major emphasis of the study was on trees, but
information on ground covers and epiphytes was also recorded.