The islands of Micronesia are globally recognized as a biodiversity hotspot that supports the Earth’s richest endemic flora (per total land area). The Micronesian region encompasses the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Kiribati, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US territory of Guam covering a total area of over 7,000,000 km2 – an area larger than the continent of Australia. The region includes over 2000 islands that are home to many thriving indigenous cultures that are predicted to be disproportionately impacted by climate change —with especially large effects of rising sea level and ocean acidification on ecosystems and people. The Palauan Island of Babeldaob contains the largest intact area of native tropical lowland rainforest in the Pacific and contains the most diverse forests in Micronesia.
The Ngardok Nature Reserve (NNR) of the Melekeok Conservation Network on Babeldaob was selected as the site for the first permanent forest dynamics monitoring plot in Palau, establishing the Palau-Pacific Island Permanent Plot Network (PIPPNET). Ngardok Nature Reserve was the first of the Protected Area Network (PAN) sites for Palau and contains Lake Ngardok, the largest freshwater body in Micronesia, and is an internationally recognized Ramsar wetland site of international importance. PIPPNET is a collaboration of the USDA Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Palau Forestry under the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism, and the Ngardok Nature Reserve of Melekeok State. This 4 ha plot is the first forest dynamics monitoring plot in the Western Pacific to be associated with ForestGEO. The forest dynamics plot in Ngardok will focus on forest recovery within an officially protected area and will fill a very important gap in our understanding of tropical forests recovering from human disturbance.