Volunteers Plant New Forest to Stem Grass Fire and Runoff Risks

The Takeaway: More than 10,000 new trees make communities safer and help protect coral reefs, shorelines, and ecotourism, thanks to partners that include the Guam Coastal Management Program and NOAA.

In southern Guam’s Manell watershed, a scarcity of native trees makes man-made grass fires spread rapidly, leaving bare soil that pours into nearshore waters during heavy rains and harms water quality and coral health. To lessen these problems, 200 volunteers planted more than 10,000 trees over 33 acres to start the reforestation process. They were led by Guam’s Coastal Management Program and Forestry Division as well as NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management.

The group planted Acacia auriculiformis, a tree commonly used by the Guam Forestry Division to nurse degraded soils by restoring healthy nitrogen levels. Once that happens, native trees will be introduced. These actions will inhibit the grass fire-erosion-runoff cycle that damages the shoreline while blocking sunlight and smothering reef organisms. Beautiful, healthy beaches and waters are a huge draw for Guam’s tourism economy, which reported a record 1,543,990 visitors in 2017.

NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management was responsible for early planning on the project. (2019)

Partners: Guam’s Coastal Management Program and Forestry Division, NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, NOAA Fisheries’ Pacific Islands Regional Office, and the Nature Conservancy