(October/ Editor Kobayashi Comment: This is an excellent article on the extinction of vital plants from the islands which are essential for water retention and aquifer infiltration. I have included an excerpt with a link to the actual article)
Hawaii has far more endangered species than any other state but has never gotten its share of federal funding. Now, budget cuts threaten the few programs we have.
“WHAT MAKES HAWAII MORE THAN YOUR PLANTS AND YOUR ENVIRONMENT?”
Nellie Sugii asks rhetorically. We’re standing in the downstairs room of the micropropagation laboratory at the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum in Manoa, where Sugii manages the Hawaiian Rare Plant Program. The room is full of test tubes. Inside, tiny clones of some of Hawaii’s most endangered plant species, many of them no bigger than a person’s fingertip, glow like green nuclei. Each year, hundreds of rare plant species are coaxed back from the brink of extinction here, grown in a solid nutrient solution that looks like clear Jell-O.
Eventually, these plants will go to a greenhouse down the hill and then to native forest restoration projects. At the moment, however, they are too fragile for the real world, a feeling compounded by the precarious setup: plastic trays of test tubes stacked on top of one another, balanced on thin wire shelves that nearly graze the ceiling. Sneeze, and you’d cause a half-dozen extinctions.
Started in 1992 as an orchid teaching lab, the micropropagation facility is a crucial component of the Plant Extinction Prevention Program (PEPP), a statewide effort to protect and preserve Hawaii’s most critically endangered plant species. If nature conservation is a hospital, PEPP is the emergency room. The program is led by Joan Yoshioka (who happens also to be trained as an actual nurse) and focuses exclusively on plants with fewer than 50 individuals left – in other words, those species closest to death.
Until the creation of PEPP in 2003, Hawaii was losing roughly one plant species per year. Over the past decade and a half, however, PEPP has reduced that number to zero. Of the 238 species that meet the program’s criteria, not one has gone extinct.
EXTINCTION IS PERMANENT. THERE IS NO BOUNCING BACK.”
-Joan Yoshioka, Statewide manager, Plant Extinction Prevention Program
But now, PEPP and the Rare Plant Program are in danger of becoming extinct themselves. Both rely heavily on federal funding through the Endangered Species Act, the landmark wildlife protection legislation. Last year, PEPP’s funding was cut by a third, Yoshioka says. This year, with President Trump proposing a 12 percent cut – approximately $1.5 billion – to the Department of the Interior, which funds the majority of endangered species recovery, Yoshioka anticipates even greater cuts, to the point where she is concerned for the program’s survival.
Link to the rest of the article is here…