Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Northern Marianas strengthens fight against Invasive Species

The Pacific Invasives Learning Network (PILN) recently gained an important ally as part of its  efforts to address invasive species throughout the Pacific region. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) has become the fifteenth team to join PILN following a series of successful meetings on Saipan, Tinian and Rota islands.

The Invasive Species Officer of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the PILN Coordinator met with local agencies and personnel to discuss the role that PILN could play in helping to manage invasive species in this Pacific territory.
Dr Alan Tye SPREP, Mayor of Rota, Melchor A. Mendiola, Dr Posa Skelton PILN
“This was a very productive visit and we are pleased to welcome the Northern Mariana Islands to our network,” said Dr Posa Skelton, the PILN Coordinator.

“The meeting agreed to form a national invasives committee to start the process of formulating a strategy, which will help with identifying priority issues and gaps to be addressed.”

During the series of meetings the Scarlet Ivy Gourd was identified as a serious problem on Saipan and Tinian. This smothering vine may have a negative impact on the forests of Saipan as the vines form a dense cover that shades and destroys the forest underneath. 

Photo: Scarlet Ivy Gourd by Forest and Kim Starr

The Cuban Slug on Rota Island was also identified as a major threat to local crops, this invasive species feeds on many different native, ornamental and agricultural plants. The residents of Rota Island have been asked to take precautions to ensure the slugs do not move to new areas on Rota where they may cause further damage.

“This meeting has helped us learn of the key threats to the Northern Marianas Islands and we are keen to work together to help them in their battle against these invasive species,” said Dr Skelton.

“The close proximity of the northern Marianas to Guam, coupled with similarity in habitat makes Rota, Tinian and Saipan Islands highly vulnerable to unwanted pests. Often pests that are first found in Guam, such as the Cane Toad, Giant African Snail and the Brown Tree Snake are later found in the northern Marianas. This demonstrates the importance of tackling invasive species at both national and regional levels.”

Guam is a founding member of PILN, which provides an excellent opportunity for exchanges, training and networking between the two teams.

The meetings in the Northern Marianas Islands were held from August 31 to September 3, 2010.
Notes: PILN is currently made up of teams from American Samoa, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Kosrae, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Pohnpei, Samoa, Yap and now CNMI. PILN teams are multi-agency and multi-sectoral, including government departments, non-governmental organisations, research institutions and communities.

For more details please contact PILN Coordinator Dr Posa Skelton at E: 
For more on PILN please visit -

No comments:

Post a Comment