Protecting American Samoa's Coral Reefs One Rain Garden at a Time
American Samoa is home to diverse and beautiful coral reef ecosystems. On the island of Tutuila, the Faga'alu watershed is a priority site identified by local resource managers and is the focus of NOAA and U.S Coral reef Task Force efforts to reduce the impacts of land-based sources of pollution to the region's coral reefs.
Land-based sources of pollution, from things like agricultural and stormwater runoff, deforestation, coastal development, etc., can disrupt coral growth and reproduction, disturb ecological function, and cause disease.
To help tackle the issue, NOAA and local partners are training residents in Tutuila on how to properly install rain gardens to filter stormwater runoff before it enters a coral reef area.
Click through the images below to see how a community came together to reduce pollution from the land and conserve their coral reefs!
Partners include: NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Horsley Witten Group, American Samoa Coral Reef Advisory Group, Faga'alu Village, Land Grant, and Samoa Maritime Company.
Diverse and beautiful reefs
Photo 1/6 : American Samoa is home to diverse and beautiful coral reef ecosystems that protect the territory's coasts and play an important cultural role. Land-based sources of pollution, such as polluted stormwater runoff, can have negative impacts on coral reefs and the marine life they support. Photo: NOAA
Rain gardens and coral conservation
Photo 2/6 : Rain gardens are landscaped depressions designed to absorb stormwater runoff from rooftops, driveways, roads, parking lots, and compacted lawns. Photo: NOAA
Rain garden basics
Photo 3/6 : Teams of specialists met with community members for a two-day rain garden installation clinic. The workshop included a rain garden 101 classroom session on everything from site selection and design to installation and maintenance. Photo: NOAA
Photo 4/6 : Once the classroom portion of the workshop was finished, it was time for everyone to get their hands dirty! Teams carefully surveyed the site at Faga'alu Beach Park, marked the perimeter and began excavations. Photo: NOAA
Let the planting begin!
Photo 5/6 : With shovels in hand, the community began planting carefully selected native plants. Mulch, sod, and rocks were added to protect the plants, trap rainwater, and stabilize the construction. Photo: NOAA
Setting the stage for future rain gardens in American Samoa
Photo 6/6 : The final result is both a beautiful addition to the community and an effective tool to tackle the impacts of runoff on Faga'alu's coral reefs. Groups in Tutuila plan to take what they learned and install future rain gardens around the island. Plans are already underway to identify other sites that could benefit from a rain garden. Photo: NOAA
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program was established in 2000 by the Coral Reef Conservation Act. Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the program is part of NOAA's Office for Coastal Management.