Environmental sustainability requires government and private sectors to work together to meet the needs of today’s community without harming the island for future generations. This includes the protection of Guam’s natural resources such as water, air, and land from internal and external threats.
The territory of Guam follows U.S. trade, immigration and defense mandates. This has led to the increased destruction of Guam’s natural resources due to land clearing from military and other construction activities, chemical pollutants in the air and water, and invasive species.
About Environmental Sustainability in Guam
As a territory of the United States, Guam has limited control over governance aspects that directly impact the environment. With the current military footprint and the anticipated Marine relocation to Guam, the island is seeing immediate and drastic changes to the environment. The expected increase in population in the island from military personnel and other migrant populations as well as tourist arrivals will mean increased demand for natural resources as well as energy consumption, pollutants and trash. The government of Guam’s inability to control all regulations related to imports has over time resulted in the introduction of invasive species to the island that have caused serious often irreparable environmental damage. Guam also lacks the ability to develop a national climate change plan that is separate from the U.S. and better meets the specific needs of small islands in the Pacific region. This puts the island at risk from rising sea levels and weather changes.
Did You Know
95% of food in Guam is imported which is only enough to sustain the island for less than a week. (Guampedia)
Typhoon Mangkhut caused an estimated $4.3 million in damages across the island, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not approve federal assistance and no individuals affected will receive federal aid aside from replacement SNAP benefits. (2018 Guam Economic Report)
“The [brown tree snake] is an invasive species brought to Guam in the 1940s, probably by the U.S. military. It’s a rapacious nocturnal feeder that, just a few decades after it was introduced, had eaten so many of the eggs of the native bird populations that 10 of the 12 species went functionally extinct. By some estimates, there are 2 million brown tree snakes on Guam, about 9,500 per square mile.” (Alexandra Ossola, “Guam’s ecological fate is in the hands of the U.S. military,” in National Geographic, December 2018)
“Native limestone forest, the oldest forest on the island where native species plunge their roots almost directly into the hard limestone, has been reduced to about 10 percent of the island, according to a 2017 assessment from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” (Alexandra Ossola, “Guam’s ecological fate is in the hands of the U.S. military,” in National Geographic, December 2018)
The primary impact from these [military buildup] projects would be the loss of native habitat and the increased potential for the spread of invasive species. (Record of decision for the final supplemental environmental impact statement for Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands military relocation)
FURTHER READINGS ON ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IN GUAM