DEDEDO, GUAM --
Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz and the University of Guam are collaborating to restore and enhance more than 400 acres of Guam’s forests at the North Finegayan Forest Enhancement Site. This is part of the largest forest restoration effort in the island’s recorded history, eventually covering 1,000 acres of Guam’s forests. MCB Camp Blaz and experts from the UoG began working together in July of 2019 to remove invasive species and restore the native habitat. Enhancement efforts include the planting of culturally important species like the Intsia bijuga, Artocarpus mariannensis, and Elaeocarpus joga, more commonly known as ifit, dokdok, and yoga, respectively.
“The North Finegayan FES project is the first attempt to improve the native habitat at a large scale,” Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Marianas Forest Enhancement Program Manager Adrienne Loerzel, Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz
“Many of the methods we are developing for this project could be used on Guam and in the rest of the Marianas, to improve the habitat for the islands’ native and endemic species.”
This is the first time many of these species have been studied by horticultural scientists. A suite of control methods for Vitex parviflora, also known as the molave tree, are being developed and can be implemented on a larger scale across Guam and in the Marianas. Removal methods for additional invasive species on Guam like Mikania micrantha and Spathodea campanulata, also known as Mile-a-Minute vine and the African tulip tree, are also being researched.
Innovative methods to control invasive plant life include the usage of animals to disperse native Ficus tree seeds. “Birds and bats eat native Ficus fruits and then spread the seeds over the tops of other trees. The seeds sprout and grow downward around host trees, eventually killing the invasive species and creating a habitat for native fauna,” stated horticultural researcher Dr. Jim McConnell. “Many of the plants we are working with are found in other tropical forests, so the information about these species will be useful beyond Guam. The techniques we’re developing here can help future forest projects be more successful.”
The North Finegayan FES project is part of the 1,000-acre forest enhancement program identified in the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion for the Marine Relocation to Guam. Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz continues the extensive collaboration with our partners, sharing information and taking deliberate, cooperative measures to ensure a responsible military buildup process.
Photo by Stanley James
“We hope that the partnership with the University of Guam will further attract and create opportunities for our aspiring local conservationists to develop and contribute to solutions for our declining forests. We are also looking to our region’s best and brightest to infuse community values into our conservation approaches, which I believe we will need to achieve long-term success supporting conservation and the DoD mission in Guam and throughout the Marianas,” said Al Borja, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Marianas Environmental Director, Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz.
This project supports the MCB Camp Blaz objective of environmental stewardship and provides new tools to address invasive species on Guam. Experts have already learned more about processing and safely storing seeds prior to propagation. Additional findings will serve as a model for future restoration efforts across Guam and the CNMI.