A presentation at the 8th Assembly of Planners Symposium in late September highlighted the importance of protecting and preserving the island’s biocultural diversity.
According to Else Demeulenaere, PhD, the associate director of the University of Guam Center for Island Sustainability, Micronesia is one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world. In her presentation, “Fostering Biocultural Diversity Throughout Our Economic and Natural Landscape,” she stressed the importance of protecting endemic species, languages, and cultures in the region.
Demeulenaere outlined the threats to Guam’s biocultural diversity, including invasive species, local and military development, and climate change. She lamented the loss of CHamoru names for some species, which means she only has the scientific name to identify them. This linguistic loss highlights the vulnerability and interlinked diversity of flora, fauna, language, and culture.
From plants used by traditional healers to the flightless ko’ko bird found only on Guam, to tiny tree snails, Demeulenaere emphasized, “Our biocultural heritage is everywhere. These species all need our attention and protection.”
The Guam Coastal Management Program organized the symposium, whose major focus is to inform the public about the Guåhan 2050 Sustainability Plan.
The Bureau of Statistics and Plans, the UOG Center for Island Sustainability, and other government agencies are developing the plan. Over the next two years, the partner agencies will hold sessions about the plan to encourage public engagement.
The UOG Center for Island Sustainability was established in 2009 to support the transition of the region toward a sustainable future. For more information on the research and outreach activities of CIS, please visit https://cis.uog.edu/.