Construction kicks off on new native plant conservation lab

Construction kicks off on new native plant conservation lab

MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Janelle Guerrero-Miguel

Construction is about to begin on laboratory at Lyon Arboretum aimed at saving rare Hawaiian plants.

The new, $2.5 million facility is aimed at cultivating, breeding and restoring native plants that are in jeopardy.

"If you lose one species it's going to be a ripple effect," said Erin King, who works at the arboretum.

"You are going to lose the bugs the birds, and all the other things that depend on this one native plant that might not seem important, but for all these other species, it's very important."

Hawaii is considered an endangered species hotspot, with over 400 federally-endangered and threatened plants. About 300 are in significant decline.

Keoni Kikala, a student worker at the arboretum, said he does not want people to undermine the importance that these plants may have.

"A lot of these plants, we don't know much about them and they could be cures, but we?ll never know because that's how rare they are," he said.

The new facility will replace an existing lab for cultivating native plants, but will provide greater public access and educational opportunities.

The Lyon Arboretum's native plant rescue program uses a plant propagation technology in which seeds are extracted and placed in a controlled, sterile environment.

The Lyon Arboretum is situated on about 200 acres of tropical rainforest at the top of the Manoa Valley watershed.

The new facility is expected to be finished in 2017.

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