GROW Initiative sprouts success at Ugum watershed tree planting

The Guam Restoration of Watersheds (GROW) initiative, supported by the University of Guam Sea Grant, reached a significant milestone in its restoration efforts this month.  

During its first tree-planting event in December, approximately 30 volunteers assisted the team in planting 1,400 acacia trees at the Ugum watershed, one of the areas under GROW’s restoration program. 

Although not native to Guam, acacia trees play a crucial role in preventing erosion and revitalizing soil in badlands by reintroducing nitrogen into the soil. 

Daniel Stone Jr., GROW extension assistant was actively involved in the restoration efforts during the event. 

“Last year, we planted about 6,000 acacia trees at the Ugum watershed which has helped keep sediment out of our water system. So far, we have managed to plant 5,700 more trees in 2023, and I am pretty confident we will surpass our previous record before the year is over,” said Stone. 

According to Stone, in 2023, Guam experienced increased rainfall due to El Niño, intensifying erosion effects. Moreover, Super Typhoon Mawar’s passage this year devastated the island, requiring the GROW team to intensify its efforts to mitigate the impact of these events on their restoration efforts. 

“Restoring forestlands is a part of our goal as members of the GROW initiative. Our plant stock dwindled a bit due to [Super Typhoon Mawar], which was a challenge, but the team pulled together and got things back on track regardless. We took downed acacia trees and used the wood for different things around the site, like using them in areas with lots of flowing water to create wattles (man-made dam). That helped to hold back sediment from reaching other parts of the river,” he said.  

Reflecting on the recent tree planting event, Stone expressed his amazement at the efficiency and enthusiasm displayed by everyone involved. 

“It was like a Christmas miracle because we planted a huge number of trees, and we got it done quick! In just two hours, we had planted all 1,400 trees. It goes to show how much we can get done when we all come together and help each other out,” Stone said. 

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