On Monday, 4th November 2019, the Tree Management for Disaster Risk Reduction Policy was officially launched during Environment Week.
The Disaster Management Office with funding from the Green Climate Fund has managed to develop a Tree Management Policy to reduce risks to life and property from trees to ensure the safety of all Samoan communities.
Trees can be a hazard and can create risks to life or property. Trees may be a hazard themselves by falling or dropping limbs, especially if they have defects and are close to targets like houses, buildings, and roads. However, any tree may create a risk to life, property or contribute to or exasperate disaster or emergency situations when it is exposed to hazards such as high winds, storms, flooding, earthquakes, fire, tsunami, and cyclones.
From records of previous Cyclones, the Disaster Management Office recorded an increase in request from families to cut trees during and after cyclone posing a threat to lives and as well as their properties, with the tree management policy in place this will eliminate tree posing a threat to families who are at risk.
Furthermore, the Tree Management for Disaster Risk Reduction Policy outlines that it is the responsibility of landowners to manage trees on their property to reduce risk to life or property for themselves and their neighbors. However, if trees have the potential to create risk, members of the community are urged to contact the Disaster Management Office who undertake a risk assessment of the tree and determine a management strategy for resolution.
In addition, the policy highlights the process of referral to different government agencies for a request to cut the tree if it falls within different government Agencies mandates. An example; if a family requests to cut a tree encroaching onto their property but affects the powerlines, the Disaster Management Office will refer to the Electric Power Cooperation for their consideration and appropriate actions. Lastly, the policy discusses guidelines for tree management in order to reduce risks and ensuring residents are well secured. A Regulation for the Tree Management Policy is in progress, this provides the Disaster Management Office the Authority to undertake appropriate resolutions to manage requests subject to hazardous trees.