American Samoa Climate Forum

What are the Climate Forums?

American Sāmoa Climate Forum Report

June 20-21, 2018
Tauese P. F. Ocean Center
National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa
Patricia Fifita and Clay Trauernicht

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People Participated at the American Sāmoa Climate Forum

On June 20th and 21st, 2018, the American Sāmoa Extension Climate Forum was organized as a knowledge exchange event designed to create a space for interactive learning and discussion about ways to effectively respond to regional climate change impacts within the agricultural sector.

The Climate Forum goal was specifically aimed at:

  • increasing awareness of and access to climate-related information, resources and tools by Extension faculty in the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI) and Hawaiʻi
  • engaging farmers, natural resource managers, environmental agencies and cooperative extension and outreach in a critical dialogue around sustainability of agricultural production and livelihoods, food security, and locally-based climate adaptation efforts.

The main objectives of the climate forum was to:

  • develop foundational knowledge of regional climate change science
  • identify locally relevant strategies for climate adaptation and communication
  • incorporate climate-related information and tools into cooperative extension services and programs
If you are interested in attending future Climate Forums in American Sāmoa, CNMI (Northern Marianas), Guam, Hawai’i or FSM, please contact Clay Trauernicht ([email protected]) or Patricia Fifita ([email protected]).
"One of the most valuable ideas taken from the forum was that using local agency knowledge in combination with local knowledge will make strong effort"
Forum Participant
Extension Agent
I learned about the importance of climate change and how to adapt to the situation of climate change.
Forum Participant
Local Farmer

Climate-Related Impacts and Concerns

Aufa'i Areta at the podium

Video: Climate Forum Introduction

(7:00) In this video, Aufa'i Areta, Director of Land Grant Program from the ASCC, provides introduction to the American Sāmoa Climate Forum.

Ian Gurr at the podium

Video: Ian Gurr from ACNR-ASCC Agricultural Plots

(22:24) In this video, Ian Gurr from the ASCC ACNR Agricultural Plots, presents the various climate change predictions for American Sāmoa and how these changes are currently or expected to affect food availability and agricultural production. He notes that, as a small, remote island, American Sāmoa must consider the impacts of climate change on local farmers, but also the vulnerability to impacts on food and crops far away.
He predicts: 1) higher air and sea temperatures and day and night; 2) increasing annual rainfall, rainfall variability and extreme rain events; 3) potential decrease in cyclones and increase in wind strength, and 4) sea level rise.

Throughout the Forum, various presenters and participants identified climate-related concerns for the following categories:

  • Saltwater inundation in flooded taro fields (eg. Aunu‘u Island)
  • Changes in breadfruit phenology – shift from seasonal to year-round production
  • Rainfall damage to leafy vegetables (lettuce, cabbages)
  • Exceeding heat thresholds for leafy vegetable production
  • Rainfall events increasing nutrient leaching and soil loss
  • Changes in pest/disease outbreaks with increased temperature and rainfall
  • Drought impacts with very few farmers using irrigation
  • Pig farm run-off/pollution from heavy rainfall events
  • Saltwater inundation of drinking water
  • Sea-level rise and coastal flooding due to increasing tidal/storm run-ups
  • Declines in reef productivity, nearshore fisheries
  • Increased flood intensity
  • Increasing flood risk due to windthrow and stream blockages from downed trees
  • Vulnerability to climate impacts on imported foods
  • Wind damage and forest cover loss
  • Rainfall and sediment/pollutant run-off onto reef ecosystems
  • Changing fruiting/flowering phenology

Strategies and Practices to Address Concerns

Forum participants shared some of the ways in which their existing programs are currently contributing to climate adaptation and mitigation.
  • Experimenting with different crops, especially from Africa/Asia – including amaranth, squash, different taro varieties
  • Promoting and marketing easy-to-grow, nutritious crops – laupele (Albemoschus manihot), sweet potato leaves
  • Testing salt tolerance of taro varieties
  • Grafting tomatoes onto eggplant root stock to combat soil disease
  • Promoting short-rotation, quick yielding crops (eg. post-hurricane)
  • Adapting hydroponics for high rainfall (covering, different nutrient mixes)
  • Developing capacity and market opportunities for aquaculture
  • Promoting household-level energy and water conservation
  • Community engagement via the Local Early Action Planning (LEAP; NOAA)
  • Village level resource mapping and story-telling (past climate-related impacts)
  • Discouraging burning of rubbish
  • Educate the public on how important the environment is to our life
  • Expanding/promoting tree planting
  • Coral & fish monitoring; projects to build community & coral resilience;
  • Reducing land-based sources of pollution
  • Mitigation of erosion

How can the Extension help to Contribute to Climate Adaptation and Mitigation?

Forum participants shared some of the ways in which their existing programs can contribute to climate adaptation and mitigation.
  • Expanding/promoting agroforestry to increase food production, carbon storage, and minimize soil disturbance
  • Focus on agriculture practices – precision fertilizer applications, reduced tillage/soil disturbance – that minimize emissions and reduce run-off to coral reefs
  • Promoting hydroponic systems to reduce fertilizer use and nutrient run-off and decrease vulnerability to climate variability
  • Agroforestry/tree conservation around farms to minimize wind impact on crops during cyclone and windy days
  • Diversifying crops and marketable agricultural products to support farm incomes
  • Identifying areas of salt water intrusion and salt-tolerance of local taros 

Resources

Read the Extension Climate Forum for the full report.

For resources specific to climate in American Sāmoa, visit the American Sāmoa Climate Resources Page.