Native plants down to the last stem

Published: Nov. 13, 2008 at 1:55 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 13, 2008 at 3:34 PM HST
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Dr. Kathryn Kennedy
Dr. Kathryn Kennedy
Allison Holland
Allison Holland

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

MANOA (KHNL) - To some, hawaii is known as the "Endangered Species Capitol of the World."

That's because so many animals and plants here have become extinct or are seriously threatened.

It's another beautiful day at the Lyon Arboretum. Many native plants live there, but it's also home to some of the state's endangered or near extinct species.

"What we're experiencing right now, the rates of extinction are so much faster than anything that would occur naturally and with climate change coming at us, the potential loss of species will be devastating, not only to our environment, but to our economy," Center For Plant Conservation president Kathryn Kennedy said.

The Honolulu Garden Club brought in Kennedy to bring more awareness to this urgent issue.

"The knowledge of knowing about it is our first step and then we'll probably go into a more thoroughly now that we've heard how serious the condition is here for us," Honolulu Garden Club president Allison Holland said.

Around half of the native plants in Hawaii are on the brink of extinction. Some are so rare that less than 20 of some species exist in the wild.

Kennedy says the lack of money is a huge challenge that many restoration projects face.

"It isn't that we don't know how to do a lot of this work, it's that we can't move forward because it's not adequately funded and it's not something that's so expensive that it's beyond our hope," Kennedy said.

She hopes more people will help this urgent cause.

"I just hope that everyone shows my sense of pride and a new sense of commitment to getting the resources and the action going so that these species don't wink out in our lifetime," she said.

A leaf by leaf battle that hopes to save more of our native plants.

Kennedy tells us a quick response to invasive species is key to bringing back some our native plants.