Between the annual burning of grasslands and subsequent monsoon rains, the topsoil doesn’t stand a chance in many Pacific islands. Erosion not only depletes the soil, it washes sediment onto the surrounding reefs, killing live coral and fish species.
Reforestation of the grasslands is the solution, but to make that happen, officials needed an expert in tropical forestry. So they reached out to Extension’s J.B. Friday. With his guidance, the officials are improving seedling quality in the nursery and increasing their survival at restoration sites.
In educational workshops for the local community and hunters, the response has been enthusiastic. People are burning less grassland, transitioning to native trees, and amending the soil via mulching.
“Ten years ago, you could look at that side of the island and just see badlands of bare ground. The soil was gone, down to subsoil,” says J.B. “Those patches are now all covered with trees.”
He adds, “I’m a forester; I like seeing trees grow. We go back out and people say, ‘You showed us this technique and now we’re doing it.’ That’s rewarding, professionally.”
Read the full article (click “Returning the Forest to US-Affiliated Pacific Islands”)
Photo: (at left) Diane Haase of the USDA Forest Service with (at right) Pius Liyagel, state forester for Yap state in the Federated States of Micronesia.
Why U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands?
by J.B. Friday, Extension Forester
I have always included the American-affiliated Pacific Islands in CTAHR Extension. Except for American Samoa, the land grant colleges there don't have any Extension capacity in forestry.
This nursery and reforestation program is a coordinated, multi-year program, which allows us to follow up on training and see positive changes the island forestry agencies are making.
I began working in forestry nurseries back in my Peace Corps days in the Philippines, and forestry nurseries were an important part of the agriculture and natural resources project that CTAHR led in East Timor some years ago.
For me, it has also been an opportunity to learn names of native trees in half a dozen different languages.