- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) - An effort to protect Hawaii’s native plants is proving effective, as about 35 percent more state species have been placed on a global list of threatened species since last year.

Conservationists, the University of Hawaii and state agencies have been working to get more of Hawaii’s threatened and endangered plants on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List of Threatened Species.

The list ranks plant and animal species based on different categories, ranging from “least concern” to “extinct,” The Garden Island reported (https://bit.ly/2aHU5Po).

Maggie Sporck-Koehler, state botanist for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said getting species on the list helps bring more awareness to the rarity of Hawaiian flora, which can lead to more protections for plants and increases in species recovery.

“Red listing is very important for all rare, threatened and endangered, and otherwise vulnerable Hawaiian species because it helps broadcast the message about the unique status of the Hawaiian flora to a far-reaching audience,” Sporck-Koehler said.

Sporck-Koehler is part of the Hawaiian Special Plant Group, which met on Kauai in August 2015 for a workshop in collaboration with the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

Those who attended the event committed to focusing on adding 780 of the 1,375 native species in Hawaii to the Red List.

“A large number of the targeted plants are rare, but we’re also working on listing plants that are important as part of the wildlife habitat and some that are seriously threatened by disease,” said Sporck-Koehler.

Since the workshop, the number of Hawaii species added to the list has increased by more than one-third.

On Kauai, which has the largest number of endemic plant species of any of the main islands, there are 138 plants on the international list. The number on Oahu is expected to grow from 88 to 147, while Maui expects to grow its number of red listed species from 84 to 117 and Hawaii Island’s from 72 to 79.


Information from: The Garden Island, https://thegardenisland.com/

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