Guam Navy has donated more than 200 plants of the endangered cycad to the Tinian Department of Land and Natural Resources. The plants were propagated and grown in the Navy-funded Tinian plant nursery managed by the University of Guam. Known in the Chamorro language as fadang, this tree is an important cultural and biological resource on Guam, and belongs to an ancient group of plants called cycads by botanists. Guam’s population of the tree has been decimated in the past few years due to two alien insect invasions.
“Forest surveys less than 10 years ago indicated fadang was the most abundant tree in Guam’s forests,” said Anne Brooke, Navy Natural Resources Program Manager for the Marianas region. “But the plant mortality after the invasions of these insects was so rapid and widespread that the International Union for Conservation of Nature listed Guam’s fadang as an endangered species in 2006,” said Brooke.
The Navy recently partnered with the University of Guam to establish a large collection of Guam cycad plants in the limestone forests of Tinian. This remote safe haven for the Guam plants is designed to safeguard the species in case all of the plants on Guam are killed in coming years. The donated cycad plants were grown in combination with the plants that were used to establish the Navy collection.
The CNMI government intends to plant most of the donated plants in the recently established wildlife refuge, according to Sam Palacios. Palacios is Assistant Director of Tinian DLNR and was responsible for enabling the use of DLNR facilities for the nursery phase of the Navy project. “This plan is ideal,” said UOG professor Thomas Marler. “If they are successful, Tinian will have two forested areas with established fadang populations and this will increase the conservation efforts.” Marler was the manager of the Tinian project.
“This latest development in our Tinian work is a welcomed addition to the project,” said Dr. Greg Wiecko, Associate Director of the UOG Western Pacific Tropical Research Center. “We are pleased to partner with the Guam Navy and CNMI government to advance the conservation of natural resources in the Mariana Islands.”