About 120 scientists from Guam, Hawaii, and the U.S. mainland came together at the Hibiscus Hall of the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan this week to talk about biodiversity and wildlife conservation and management at the 3rd Annual Marianas Terrestrial Conservation Conference & Workshop.
The event, which the CNMI hosted for the first time last Nov. 18-21 at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, gathered together conservation experts to exchange ideas with local and international scientists working now in the CNMI.
Division of Fish and Wildlife director Manny Pangelinan, who welcomed the scientists at the conference, encouraged them to check out the parks, birds, and other wildlife that Saipan has to offer.
“Thank you to the biologists from near and far that are helping us understand how to manage our islands so people and species can co-exist. We appreciate the work you all do,” Pangelinan said.
More than 25 researchers and agency professionals shared their conservation insights and science results, which ranged from endemic birds to reptiles, to brown tree snakes and bats, to forests, freshwaters, and coral reefs.
DFW wildlife section supervisor Jill Liske-Clark, who was one of the volunteer-organizers, said the conference helps advance conservation in the Marianas.
“We do a great job locally and do the best we can but, with limited funding and people, we can only do so much,” Liske-Clark said. “We have research questions and we need answers. We need these people to come help us answer those.”
The conference also opened doors for scientists on the island to form connections to an even broader range of experts.
One of those experts able to connect with fellow scientists is Alexandra Quenga Kerr, a native of Guam who works for Colorado State University.
“It is especially important to make connections with our brothers and sisters in the CNMI, and to see what their methods and expertise are as well. Hopefully, I have been able to talk with a lot of people and we’ve been able to share knowledge,” Kerr said.
Conference participants also enjoyed pre-conference canoe rides, a Mariana swiftlet field trip, a Managaha Island tour, a lizard identification trip at American Memorial Park, tree planting at Micro Beach, and a tour of Jeffrey Beach.
Talks are in the works for Rota to host the conference in 2021.