Fighting invasive weeds in American Samoa has landed Tavita Togia from the National Park Service of American Samoa in Fiji.He joined a team of experts from the Pacific Invasives Initiative, the NZ Department of Conservation, the National Trust of Fiji and the University of the South Pacific to assist in strengthening the capacity of Fiji to manage invasive species threats in May, 2011. The training was attended by eight participants from the Natioanl Trust of Fiji.
Togia's experience in dealing with invasive trees, such as the tamaligi (Albizia chinensis) in American Samoa proved to be invaluable and he was able to share this with the Fiji participants. He noted of the need for continuous mentoring and having adequate resources to strengthen and enhance invasive species training. One of his aspirations is forming a sister partner between his organisation - the American Samoa National Park Service and the National Trust of Fiji, which will allow for stronger collaboration, exchange and capacity building. One of the functions of the National Park Service is to promote and encourage its science and service to other countries.
Togia is the Coordinator for the American Samoa Invasive Species Team (ASIST) that is part of the Pacific Invasives Learning Network (PILN). ASIST was established in 2004 as an inter-agency team of nine local government and federal agencies. ASIST's mission is to reduce the rate of invasion and impact of invasive species in American Samoa with the goals of promoting education awareness on invasive species, preventing, controlling and eradicating invasive species.