The Guam Plant Extinction Prevention Program (GPEPP) has something new for visitors to experience at the University of Guam Experiment Station in Yigo. This station is where College of Natural & Applied Sciences scientists carry out experiments and research projects. It is also the home of the Triton Farm, an integrated demonstration farm, where the public can learn about raising free-range chickens, aquaponics, bees, local crops, composting, and more.
Across the fields, in the bordering jungle beneath the shady understory of pandanas and Vitex trees, GPEPP personnel have planted rare plants that were once commonly found on Guam in hopes of reintroducing them to their native habitat. Visitors can see several outplantings of Serianthes nelsonii, Håyun lågu in Chamorro, wrapped in netting to protect them from butterflies whose larvae can defoliate the young trees. Another native species, Tabernaemontana rotensis, is also represented. Kawika Davis, GPEPP’s rare plant nursery manager, points out the small bumps on the trunk, which are called lenticels. They are the breathing pores of the tree. Several other species are also planted in hopes that they will thrive and reproduce. “We check the outplantings weekly to monitor for damage from insects, deer, pig and other causes,” said Davis.
School groups and community organizations are welcome to contact GPEPP or Triton Farm to arrange for a tour of the native outplantings at the experiment station.
The Guam Plant Extinction Prevention (GPEPP) program is making a difference for Guam’s rarest plants reversing the trend toward extinction by managing wild plants, collecting seeds and establishing new populations. GPEPP collaborates with conservation partners to safeguard wild plants as they occur in their natural habitat or are outplanted in protected areas. Partners include the Guam Department of Agriculture, US Fish & Wildlife, US Forest Service, Micronesian Challenge, US National Park Service, USDA-NRCS, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Marianas (NAVFAC), and the Hawaii Plant Extinction Prevention Program.
Visit GPEPP on line at: www.gpepp.org.