Hawaii’s Endemic Life is Fast Disappearing; 87 Percent in Danger of Extinction
Hawaii received a blow to its conservation efforts during the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Honolulu as it was revealed how much the country's flora are in danger of disappearing.
According to a release from IUCN, a total of 38 plant species endemic to Hawaii have already gone extinc plus four other species that are classified as extinct in the wild. Furthermore, of the 415 that were part of the union's Red List assessment of threatened species, nearly 87 percent were declared as threatened with extinction.
Scientists from IUCN pointed to the presence of invasive species as the main factor in the disappearance of the different species.
"Hawaiʻi is an example of nature at its best with spectacular examples of evolution, yet it is facing an uncertain future due to the impact of invasive species -- showing how unwittingly, human actions can make nature turn against itself," Matt Keir, a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Hawaiian Plant Specialist Group, said. "What we see happening in Hawaii is foretelling what will happen in other island or contained ecological systems. Hawaii and other nations must take urgent action to stop the spread of invasive species and to protect species with small population sizes."
A report from ZME Science described invasive species as species that are not native to a location such as Hawaii. These are often commonly known species such as pigs, goats, rats and slugs, and often pose a threat to other species through a number of ways including spreading disease, becoming predators, changing the habitat or even hybridizing with the local species.
Despite the bleak news, National Tropical Botanical Garden's Limahuli Garden and Preserve director Kawika Winter is hopeful that now there will be swift action to save the threatened flora, according to Civil Beat.
"It's absolutely great that we're getting some attention to the peril that our native plants are in," Winter said in an interview. "The Red List is helping to highlight how fragile our forests are and how much they need to be helped."