A workshop hosted by the Guam Legislature today highlights the importance of Guam’s native plants to the preservation of the environment, addressing climate change, as well as the survival of the island’s cultural heritage and identity.
During the workshop, Else Demeulenaere, UOG Center for Island Sustainability Associate Director, spoke about her study which focuses on the Polynesia-Micronesia Biological hot spot, which includes Guam.
According to Demeulenaere, Guam is in one of 25 geographical areas in the world with a high rate of endemism for plant species, which means that there are plants that can only be found on island and nowhere else in the world.
Losing these native species and the traditional knowledge in these hot spots could negatively impact the island and the region, according to Demeulenaere.
“In Micronesia only, we have 364 plant species that only occur in this region and nowhere else in the world. Of those, there are about 54 endemic plant species in the Mariana islands. I am saying about because conservation genetics is trying to figure out if some of these species are truly endemic or not,” Demeulenaere said.
Senator Sabina Perez, who organized the workshop, said that in the face of a climate crisis, the international community has come to realize the contributions of indigenous knowledge to addressing climate change, even halting global warming.