The year 2023 has been a productive one for the Guam Restoration of Watersheds (GROW) Initiative. Though each new year is sure to bring its unique challenges to any person or organization, this past year was made especially difficult with the arrival of Super Typhoon Mawar in May, a cataclysmic weather event which boasted damaging winds of 130 to 140 mph. Despite Mawar devastating Guam, there was still little that could stunt the GROW Initiative’s progress, who still managed to achieve greater success in 2023 than the year previous.
With a total of seventeen tree planting events, including three community outplanting events, GROW has surpassed previous numbers as it involves both the volume of volunteers who participated, and the total number of trees planted.
A total of 486 volunteers worked alongside the GROW Initiative this year, beating out last year’s volunteer count of 450. With the combined effort, a total of 4,836 trees were successfully planted in 2023, exceeding last year’s count of 4,718.
Each tree planted has the potential to offset our community’s carbon footprint. According to ecotree.green, one tree can absorb 25 kg of carbon dioxide emissions annually. That means as the 4,836 trees planted by GROW in 2023 begin to mature, it has the potential to absorb approximately 120,900 kg (about 266,539 lbs.) of carbon a year.
With the vast amount of acacia trees planted, attempts to mitigate the effects of erosion have strengthened this year as well, helping to keep sediment out of Guam’s freshwater systems and ocean, ensuring our drinking water is kept clean and our ocean reefs are protected from sediment runoff.
Additionally, although acacia trees are not native to Guam, it is a necessary first step to help revitalize barren soil through the tree’s ability to reintroduce nitrogen to badlands, enriching soil in preparation of the next phase of planting native plants.
As 2023 ends and a new year begins, the GROW Initiative remains rooted in its commitment to protecting and preserving Guam’s freshwater resources and ocean. Though the new year will yet again present its own challenges, the opportunity to sprout fresh ideas to address these issues remains.