Bringing firewood into American Samoa presents a serious risk to the islands’ natural, agricultural, and cultural resources. Harmful forest pests often lurk in wood products, like firewood, and escape to invade new areas when moved from one location to another. Island habitats are especially vulnerable to invasive insects and diseases which could cause irrevocable damage if they are introduced. As a result, any wood products, including firewood, that are brought to American Samoa need to be declared with customs and border officials for inspection and should be certified heat-treated to ensure they are pest-free. Also, firewood should not be transported from any one island to another.
A great example of a pest that infests firewood and poses a serious threat to island resources in the Pacific is the invasive coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB). The CRB breeds in palm trees, so wood from palm trees should be burned on-site rather than transported around or off-of an infested island. This insect has already killed over 25% of Guam’s palm trees and has spread to other islands such as Palau and Rota, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Other invasive forest pests causing harm to places like American Samoa and Guam include the little fire ant, giant African land snail, and several pathogens of citrus. Ultimately, the risks of spreading harmful tree pests to, from, or within US territories in the Pacific Islands underscore the importance of using certified, heat-treated or locally-sourced firewood.
Bringing firewood into the United States from American Samoa also poses a serious risk to the forests and agricultural resources of the United States mainland. For this reason, you must present any plant or agricultural materials you have to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer to be inspected for pests and diseases before you enter the U.S. mainland. Further, all wood packaging material entering or transiting the United States from outside of North America must be heat-treated or fumigated and marked with an approved certification logo. Please also be aware that many U.S. states have their own rules and regulations regarding firewood; many prohibit the entry of un-certified firewood. See the Firewood Map to learn more.
This summary is accurate to the best of DMF staff abilities as of 1 August 2022.
- Pacific Islands Forestry Committee
- Pacific Islands Forest Health Highlights, 2018
- Offshore Plant Health Safeguarding Activities, USDA APHIS
- Wood Packaging Material, USDA APHIS
- Bringing Agricultural Products Into the United States
- American Samoa Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan (2017)
- Giant African Land Snail information, USDA APHIS