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36th CES strives to save last of its kind tree

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Amanda Morris
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
The 36th Civil Engineer Squadron partnered with the University of Guam and the Guam National Wildlife Refuge to protect and propagate an endangered species of tree at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The last mature seed-bearing Serianthes Nelsonii tree on Guam is on Andersen. The endangered species needs to be protected and there are concerns of long term viability of the tree. In order to propagate and replace it with other trees of the same species the tree needs to be healthy.

The project began in 2012, we contracted out $75,000 to increase the understanding of the ecology of Serianthes Nelsonii plants and to develop appropriate conservation measures and recovery actions for the species, said Leanne Obra, 36th CES natural resource program manager.

"My goal is to educate the military and local community about Guam's unique ecosystems and to enhance the continued existence of the unique local flora and fauna for the future generations of Guam." Obra said.

There is currently a contract in place to find more ways to protect the tree. Some concerns include termite damage and the possibility of typhoons.

"Anytime that we can be seen protecting a species of concern gives a very positive reflection on our activities from an environmental stewardship perspective," said Thomas Spriggs 36th CES, environmental flight chief. "It is very important that we show the public that not only are we conducting our mission but we are also protecting the environment."

The 36th CES has a contract with the UOG to find ways to protect the Serianthes and in the process the partnership was able to successfully germinate trees that propagated into mature potted saplings within a year at the GNWR.

The saplings are now six feet tall. It took more than a year and required nutrients and intensive protection from insects and other threats. The trees are treated with special pesticides and herbicides to prevent weeds from growing and insects from destroying the leaves.

"We were the steward of the plan because the tree belonged to the Department of Defense, we were especially concerned with the handling of the trees when we turned them over," Spriggs said. "The GNWR has conservation biologists on board that want to preserve these plants as much as we do and we have a plan in place to make sure they are watered, monitored and that action is taken if needed should a pest come up."

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