The Department of Lands and Natural Resources was recently awarded a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund to survey and propagate endangered plants on Rota.
According to DLNR Acting Secretary Anthony Benavente, this is a continuation of work that the DLNR Rota Forestry office has been carrying out for the past two decades.
Rota Forester James Manglona noted that the public is encouraged to embrace Rota’s rarest plant species.
“The key to the success of this program is to gain the public’s support and cooperation. The community will benefit through school outreach programs, research opportunities and tourism,” Manglona said.
Acting Secretary Benavente stated that DLNR staff will survey for three endangered plants across Rota, which include the Serianthes nelsonii (Fire tree or Trongkon guafi), Osmoxylon mariannese, and the Nesogenes rotensis, to obtain a current population count and document the location and health of each individual.
“All three species are listed as federally endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Serianthes is also listed as locally endangered. These three plants are unique to the Mariana Islands with the Osmoxylon and Nesogenes found only on Rota, while Serianthes is found on both Rota and Guam,” he said.
Rota Forester Manglona added that these plant species have been affected by habitat clearing and browsing by deer with rats eating seeds and preventing regeneration.
“The propagation and planting program will increase the wild population of these three species and bring them closer towards recovery. Seeds are collected from the wild, grown in the Rota Forestry nursery and once old enough they will be planted in Rota’s conservation areas,” Manglona said.
Manglona noted that some trees that were planted 15-20 years ago are now producing their own seed which perpetuates the success of the program.
Governor Ralph DLG. Torres noted that conservation and the preservation of endangered species is an ongoing priority for all natural resources throughout the island chain.
“The implementation of these long-term strategies has been able to sustain our resources from the cultivation of our rare plant species to our wildlife preservation. This program allows us to promote sustainable ecotourism and recreational opportunities for visitors and residents which is crucial to our economic development while protecting our precious resources and the perpetuation of traditional cultural practices. I applaud DLNR for moving forward and remaining committed to delisting current federally threatened and endangered species. This is a long-term commitment that our future generations will soon appreciate,” Governor Torres said.