Micronesia Challenge-CNMI 2020

What is the Micronesia Challenge?

The Micronesia Challenge is a commitment made by the Chief Executives from five (5) different jurisdictions - the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Territory of Guam to effectively conserve at least 30% of the near-shore marine resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by year 2020. To find out more about the Micronesia challenge and each jurisdiction's conservation measures to meet the challenge, please visit their website at http://www.micronesiachallenge.org


CNMI's Micronesia Challenge Young Champions

Do you wonder what our Young Champion Interns are doing?  Visit the CNMI's Young Champions blog at http://www.micronesiachallengecnmi.blogspot.com to see day to day activities in the life of a Champion!  Also, view and listen to Kid Cabrera's videos and podcasts on rising environmental concerns in the CNMI.

The Micronesia Challenge & Mariana Islands Nature Alliance

To meet these goals by 2020, MINA has made the Micronesia Challenge a part of their conservation goal for 2008 - 2011.  To date, MINA wishes to continue its efforts to promote the goals of the Micronesia Challenge by bringing awareness to the CNMI's endangered species within the marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Every month, this section of MINA's website will feature endangered species of the month. Through this awareness, we hope to capture your compassion for these vulnerable creatures of our islands and help us save them, save our culture, and save our environment.



Micronesia Challenge Young Champion Intern Program

CNMI's Young Champions

Kid Brel Cabrera


Kid took the Micronesia Challenge on December 2010, working on two main projects hosted by the Division of Environmental Quality and more currently, the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance (MINA).  At 22, and attending courses at Northern Marianas College, former Champion Sharisse Rivera introduced him to the Challenge.  Right away, he got received an e-mail from Lisa Huynh Eller to come in to the office and was chosen immediately.  Kid has been working on environmental podcasts and videos, which he will present to high schools and the Northern Marianas College in Saipan.  His podcasts and videos are based on the pressing environmental issues in the CNMI.  While working feverishly on his projects at DEQ, his mentor Lisa Huynh Eller mentioned a possible project about backyard conservation in the CNMI.  Sparked by a need for conservation at home, he took up the project.  Kid also worked alongside David Sablan until his internship ended in October.  After Lisa’s sad departure from DEQ, Kid moved to the MINA and is currently being mentored by Sam Sablan.  He is currently finishing up his projects at MINA with Sam’s guidance.  Other than his main projects, Kid also helped out with various events, activities, and attended several workshops during the internship experience.                                                      



Endangered Species of the Month

The Mariana Islands Nature Alliance would like to dedicate this section of our website to promote the "Terrestrial" aspect of the Micronesia Challenge. By providing valuable information on the endangered species of our terrestrial ecosystem we hope to encourage the community at large to take a stand against the threats of habitat degradation, substantial loss of native forestry, and the hunting and poaching of our vulnerable and endangered species that are native only to the Marianas.

The CNMI's Terrestrial Environment

The Marianas archipelago consists of 14 small islands that make up the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and lies on the edge of the Philippine plate. The largest and most populated island is Saipan at 120 square kilometers.  The island of Agrihan has the highest elevation of about 965 m. Climate is tropical with consistent temperatures ranging from 25 degrees C to 30 degrees C.  Groundwater is an important water source particularly for the inhabitated islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.  The southern-most islands are rich in soil thus making agriculture and live-stock raising prevalent in these areas while the northern islands remain volcanic. Over the years, terrestrial vegetation continue to be degraded by human activities and is a major threat to native species. (Source: Important Bird Area of the CNMI

Febuary 2012

Coconut crab, Birgus latro

Photo Credit: wonderfulanimals.blogspot.com                                                                                Photo Credit: arkive.org                                                                                                                                                Photo Credit: animalwildlife.blogspot.com

The coconut crab or Ayuyu as it is called in Chamorro, is also known as the robber crab or palm theif.  The crab has earned it's name due to discoveries of shiny trinkets and jewelry found in its home.  Do not attempt to catch one if it will be your first try.  These crabs are armed with very strong pinchers that can take your fingers off!  The ayuyu tends to live near areas coser to the ocean where female crabs can disperse their eggs into the ocean.  The total lifespan of most coconut crabs is 60 years or more and can weigh up to 9 pounds.  Coconut crabs can be found where there are coconut trees present hence its name.  The diet of the ayuyu consists of fruits, coconuts, and even carrion(dead animals) on occassion.  The Ayuyu makes its home in rock or tree crevices where it may provide adequate moving space in and out when foraging for food.           

January 2012

Fire Tree, Serianthes Nelsonii

Photo Credit: taotaotasi.com

Endemic in the CNMI, there are only 60-80 Fire trees surviving on Rota and only 1 tree on Guam as of 2010.  This tree is the tallest in the CNMI standing at 36 meters or more and 6 feet wide!  On Rota, this tree is called “Tronkon Guafi” meaning fire tree or “Hayun Lagu” on Guam meaning foreign wood or wood of the north.  The decline of population of this species is due to sapling predation by animals, parasites, interbreeding, and more.  Everyday, newly introduced animals, parasites, insects, and human disturbaces add to the list of threats to this unique tree bringing it closer to extinction.     

December 2011

The Marianas Fruit Bat, Pteropus Mariannus Mariannus

Photo Credit: pacificislandparks.com
The Marianas Fruit Bat or 'Fanihi" in Chamorro, indigenous to the CNMI, has been a significant cultural icon to the local people.  Their size may vary ranging from 195 to 250 mm in length, a wingspan of up to three feet, and weighing up to one pound.  During the daytime, these bats either are sleeping, grooming, flying, or breeding and then feed at night.  They usually can be found in native limestone forests, mangroves, or coconut groves.  Because fruit bat populations have been declining due to habitat loss a well as over hunting, it is illegal to hunt or sell them.  As of 2005, the Fanihi was listed as threatened in the CNMI, and refuge areas and enforcement have been active in the Mariana islands to ensure the survival of fruit bat population.  

November 2011

The Marianas Swiftlet, Aerodramus Vanikorensis Bartschi 


Photo Credit: guamdawr.org                                                                                                 Photo Credit: flickriver.com
The The Mariana Swiftlet is one of the smallest birds in the CNMI and is rarely found except on Saipan and Aguigan.  These swiftlets or “Chachaguak” as they are called in Chamorro, are endangered due to introduction of rats and cockroaches that destroy the nests, as well as human disturbances such as hiking and hunting that leave the flock stranded.  Similar to bats that use echolocation to find their way at night, the Marianas Swiftlet uses echolocation to find their way out of dark caves where they live and raise their young.     



October 2011

No common name, Osmoxylon Mariannense

Photo Credit: taotaotasi.com                                           Photo Credit: luirig.altervista.org


The Osmoxylon mariannense can grow up to 10 meters tall and may be found at high elevations.  It is a soft wooded tree endemic only on Rota, that bears clumps of dark blue berries which may be eaten by wildlife such as the Mariana Fruit bat, Fruit dove, and other birds.  It is an understory species found in dense limestone forests.  There is no regulation in place to conserve this tree and is threatened by typhoons, storms, and competition from invasive plants and vines.  In 2002, there were only eight trees recorded on Rota! 


September 2011

The Marianas Fruit Dove, Ptilinopus Roseicapilla

Photo Credit : flickr.com


Endemic to the CNMI, the Mariana Fruit Dove is also called “Totot” in Chamorro and “Mwee’mwe” in Carolinian.  Easily scared, one must move slowly and be as quite as possible to catch this exotic dove.  Being the official bird of the CNMI and listed as endangered, it is important that we try not to destroy its natural habitat by cutting down and clearing more forest.  Derived from its name “Fruit dove”, this bird may eat nuts, fruits, and berries it can forage high in the tree tops, so it is critical that we protect our fruit bearing trees for the Totot’s sake.  Because of the brown tree snake introduction into the CNMI, this bird has been listed as endangered since 2004.  Currently, they are only found on four islands which are Saipan, Tinian, Aguijan, and Rota.    


August 2011

Bridled White-eye, Zosterops Conspicillatus

Photo Credit: arowana.com.vn


No it is not a repeat of the Rota Bridled White-eye although it is also called Nosa in Chamorro.  This species of Bridled White-eyes are only found in Aguijan, Tinian, and more abundant in Saipan.  This species of bird is similar to the Rota Bridled White-eye in color, lifestyle, and nesting, except in its distribution.  They were found on Guam but are extinct due to the introduction of the invasive Brown tree snake and as of 2004, this species of bird was listed as endangered due to the introduction of the brown tree snake on Saipan.  This species of White-eyes is slightly larger than its counterparts on Rota but smaller than its neighbor the Golden White-eye.       


July 2011

Tinian Monarch, Monarcha Takatsukasae

Photo credit: USFWS  Source: Center for Biological Diversity & CNMI CWCS

The Tinian Monarch is endemic to the island of Tinian and was listed as endangered since 1970. Due to their adaptability to habitat changes and forest density, their endangered status was reduced to threatened in 1987.  Other causes of habitat loss and degradation stem from various  reasons - typhoon, agriculture, homesteads, and military exercises.  However, possible infestation of brown tree snakes on Tinian would easily bring the Tinian Monarch population to extinction. Native limestone forest in Tinian is being considered as a conservation area.

June 2011

Rufous Fantail, Rhipidura rufifrons

Photo Credit: DFW   Source: CNMI CWCS

The Chamorro name for this bird is called " Na'abak", meaning " you will be lost". Although it is not federally and locally listed as endangered, the rufous fantail is easily preyed upon by brown tree snakes and thus may face the threat of extirpation.  Due to the population decline of the rufous fantail in Rota, conservation actions to protect these vulnerable creatures depend upon an island-wide habitat conservation plan and reduce the number of deers in the sabana areas of Rota.

May 2011

The Rota Bridled White-eye, Zosterops rotensis

Photo credit: Scott Vogt  source: CWCS

Named for its small size, this bird is called Nosa in chamorro' . Listed as endangered in January 2004 by the U.S Fish and Wildlife, this tiny bird occurs only on the island of Rota. An estimated 89% of the Rota Bridled population have declined between 1982 and1996 (Fancy and Snetsinger 2001). Threats to these vulnerable species are due to their 1.) high elevation habitat of which these forest areas are strongly exposed to heavy winds and numerous typhoons resulting in complete foliation of all forest and habitat damages; 2.) deer browsing; and 3.) predation by black drongos.

April 2011

Nightingale Reed-Warbler, Acrocephalus luscinia


photo credit: Scott Vogt Source: CNMI CWCS

Ga'ga' Karisu is the chamorro name for the Nightingale Reed-Warbler. It is an endemic species of the Marianas and is found only on the islands of Saipan, Alamagan, and few on Aguiguan. Medium in size and yellowy long tail, the nightingale reed-warbler is rarely seen but can be heard with melodies song of trills used to defend their territories from intruders. Threats that adversely affect these creatures are loss of wetland and tangantangan habitats.

March 2011

The Micronesian Megapode, megapodius laperouse

This federally protected species are found only in the Northern Mariana Islands. Their numbers are low due to loss of habitat that were mainly destroyed by feral animals. Forest habitat and nesting sites have been destroyed over the years due to overgrazing by feral animals such as goats. Eradication of rats, cats, and scarlet gourde are steps taken to protect these vulnerable creatures while conservation measures to protect and restore the loss of their forestry habitat continues to this day.

February 2011

GOLDEN WHITE-EYE, Cleptornis marchei

The golden white-eye bird is considered a species of special conservation need due to its susceptible to habitat loss, dreadful conditions, and is vulnerable to brown tree snakes.  It is not a federally protected species, however, local regulation prohibits hunting of this species of concern.  Very little is know about its natural habitat and history and its limited distribution is known to exist on only two islands in the world, Saipan and Aguiguan. For this reason, it is particularly vulnerable to face extinction (Stinson and Stinson 1994).

January 2011

The Marianas Crow, Corvus Kubaryi

Status: Endangered

Facts: The Marianas Crow is a large Micronesian bird that stands around 15 inches tall when fully grown; however, it is smaller than the typical crow. This crow is mostly black with a slight greenish-black gloss on its head, back, and wings, and has a brown iris around the eye.  The female Marianas Crow are typically smaller than the males. These crows prefer native limestone and secondary forests as a place for breeding, but will also live on beach strand vegetation and coconut groves as they forage. The Marianas Crow is omnivorous and is known to feed on insects, lizards, bird eggs, fruits, and seeds.

According to a survey done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an estimated number of 1,348 Marianas Crows were recorded on Rota in 1982, but has drastically dropped to 592 crows in 1995, making it a 56% decline. In 1999, an estimate of 110 breeding pairs was recorded, but recent estimates indicate only 60 breeding pairs.

Threats to the Marianas Crow include habitat loss and degradation. They are very sensitive in areas where a lot of native forests has had mammals introduced or been altered by humans.  The CNMI is currently conducting a multi-year study of these crows which is held on Rota since 1996. “The study is focused on determining the factors that affect breeding success and the dynamics of juvenile dispersal.” (U.S. Fish and Wildlife).  Predators such as rats, cats, and monitor lizards reduce crow nesting success, therefore resulting in reduction of population.


Nesting Turtles SAT-Tagged!

Tammy Summers, Jessy Hapdei and Joe Ruak from CNMI DLNR Sea Turtle Program recently tagged three nesting turtles in our local waters!  The nesting green sea turtles Kumiko, Magas and Limwamway were tagged utilizing GPS transmitters adhered to the top surfaces of the shell.  The Kagman High School Marine Biology Club, members of the community, and KSPN 2 News were on hand to see the final satellite tag placed on Limwamway.  Limwamway is "beautiful" in the Refaluwaasch language and is a very fitting name picked by the KHS Marine Biology club to depict this gentle green sea turtle.

Below are pictures of the turtle tagging events:






For more updated information on the DLNR Sea Turtle Program, or to track your favorite Sea Turtle, visit iHaggan Online.



Moving Planet 2011

On Saturday, September 24, 2011 participants from around the island geared up for Moving Planet 2011. Beach Road was closed by 7:00 am for 30 minutes only for the biking potrion of the event. Many joined together in a mass biking event (you could also come on skates, longboards, or even on foot) which began at the Garapan Fishing Base to American Memorial Park. Special presentations on carbon and its effects on the atmosphere were given afterwards with additional  presentations on the Micronesian Challenge and coral bleaching. About 150 people participated to move beyond fossil fuels and combat climate change. 


As part of contributing to climate change, MINA took part with 350.org's 10/10/10 Global Work Party event and gave away 350 free plants and vouchers to the local community. Why 350? Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. As trees grow, they help stop global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

If you would like to help volunteer and help contribute to climate change, please contact MINA at 233-7333 to participate in our events.

Events will include:



Take the Right Route

What is Your Carbon Footprint?

Your carbon footprint is the direct effect that your actions and lifestyle have on the environment in terms of CO2 emissions. Probably the biggest contributors to your personal “footprint” are your travel needs, and your electricity demands. The power used to move (most) cars, planes, and to provide us with electricity is supplied by burning fossil fuel (e.g., coal, oil, gasoline). These actions contribute to accelerating global warming and climate change.

What is Climate Change?

Climate change, or global warming, is the result of a build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, chiefly carbon dioxide (CO2). These gases trap the sun’s heat in the atmosphere and keep the earth warm. However, when the concentration of these gases gets too high, the earth’s equilibrium gets out of balance, and we experience a dangerous rise in temperatures. Temperature rise can result in severe weather conditions and storms; sea level rise and shoreline loss; and an increase in the ocean’s temperatures resulting in coral bleaching and even coral death. The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that global temperatures will rise an additional 3 to 10° F by the century's end!

What can you do to decrease your Carbon Footprint?

Everyone has a responsibility to the world we live in now and the world we will leave to future generations. Take a first step to reduce your carbon footprint and “Take the Right Route” April 11th by walking, running, biking, or carpooling to work or school. You will save one pound of CO2 for every mile you don’t drive, save money, and maybe even your waistline.

Coordinator packets are available here.

Last Updated 4/16/2013