The forests on Guam have been impacted by typhoons, drought, wildfires, and invasions of introduced insects, plants and ungulate species. These impacts have greatly altered natural communities, and now threaten biodiversity and watershed functions. In addition, Guam is bracing for an unprecedented increase in population associated with the expansion of the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy, Army and Air Force on the island. The Forest Action Plan recommends strategies for protecting forests, restoring forest ecosystems and reducing pollution to critical reef systems.
Wildfire and Public Safety: Wildfire is a primary disturbance that affects forest and watershed health, and is a keystone issue that is linked with other identified stakeholder issues. Fire is a non-native disturbance which directly interferes with the establishment and expansion of native forests, threatens standing forests, contributes to the decline of the coral reef system, and leads to accelerated erosion as well as the delivery of sidement pollution to surface waters and domestic water supplies.
Water Quality and Water Supply: Forests mainatain a critical role in water quality by providing surface conditions that allow for the safe capture and storage of water within the key watersheds. Movement of sediment from erosion into waterways is one of the most pervasive problems associated with poor land cover, which degrades surface waters, domestic water supplies, and the fragile reef systems. Healthy forests can reduce erosion and protect water quality and domestic water supplies. Forestry practices assist in the protection of groundwater resources through avoiding deforestation.
Population Growth and Urbanization: The expanding population provides a threat to the ecosystem resources which are already stressed by legacy impacts and existing population pressure. For example, the US EPA describes Guam’s drinking water infrastructure as fragile and chronically at risk of contamination from wastewater21. Guam is facing an unprecedented increase in population associated with the military buildup. The primary threat from the military buildup is the direct displacement of currently forested landscapes. For example, within proposed development, up to a total of 5,432 forested acres are at risk of deforestation due to direct effects associated with the proposed development, representing 10% of the total forested environment on Guam.