Rare plants thrive in Big Island Forest preserve

The Nature Conservancy says rare native plants are once again thriving in a Big Island forest preserve now that a fence is keeping out pigs and mouflon sheep.

The animals, which are not native to Hawaii, destroy native plants and habitats by trampling on vegetation. The animals accelerate erosion and pollute the water supply with feces and diseases.

The nonprofit organization installed an animal-proof fence around its Kaiholena Preserve in Kau in late 2007. It took the conservancy and local hunters another year to remove all the pigs from the 1,200-acre lowland forest preserve.

The Nature Conservancy said Tuesday the nuku iiwi, a native vine traditionally found in Kaiholena, is among the plants that has returned. The vine’s reddish-orange flower resembles the curved bill of the iiwi honeycreeper.

Rare plants thrive in Big Island Forest preserve – Hawaii News – Staradvertiser.com

Maui Association of Landscape Professionals

MALP Educational Meeting—Free to the public

Date: Tuesday March 22, 2011

Place: Maui Community Service Bldg next to CTHAR Extension Services (Map) on the UH Maui campus.

Time: Pupus will be served at 6:30 pm and the talk will begin at 7:00.

PLANT PONO

by Heidi Leianuenue Bornhorst, garden columnist for the Honolulu Star Advertiser and author of the book: Growing Native Hawaiian Plants.

Heidi’s presentation is entitled PLANT PONO , in which she will speak and show a PowerPoint about the new and upcoming Plant Pono website, a tool to help grow and nurture our green industry of Hawaii and our forests and natural areas as well, by growing, designing, planting and maintaining high value plants that are not invasive weeds.

Heidi’s credentials also include serving as Landscape Director at the Hale Koa Hotel; Director/Supervisor/Plant Propagator at the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, Nature Conservancy Hawaii Oahu/ Lanai Preserves Manager; Education Coordinator HPCC/National Tropical Botanical garden; Horticulturalist, Sustainable Landscape Designer & Consultant, Arborist, and VIP Tour Guide.

She specializes in native Hawaiian and drought tolerant plants, and sustainable and edible landscapes. Heidi is also a Founding and Board member of the Halawa Xeriscape Garden.

Maui Association of Landscape Professionals

Extinction Countdown: Hawaii admits possible defeat to invasive species, researches “hybrid ecosystem” instead

The beautiful yet isolated Hawaiian islands hold a bounty of biodiversity, but many of those unique species are rapidly disappearing. The fast growth of invasive species is pushing native Hawaiian species, many of which are found nowhere else on the globe, into extinction. In fact, hundreds of Hawaiian plant species, along with dozens of mammals and insects and other species, already appear on the U.S. endangered species list.

Much of the landscape of Hawaii, especially lowlands near agriculture and cities, has already been transformed, with native species nowhere to be found.

“Invasive species are so prevalent. You’re hand weeding, trying to eliminate them and aren’t able to keep up with them. It feels like you’re fighting a losing battle,” Susan Cordell, research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service, said recently in a prepared statement. “Restoring these lowland tropical forests to a historic native state is not financially or physically feasible.”

Invasive species are non-native species that disperse widely, rapidly, and at the expense of native species in an ecosystem. Not all non-native species become invasive, but those that do pose serious threats to all manner of plants, insects and animals.

So how can Hawaii preserve its biodiversity in the face of this ever-expanding enemy? A new idea is to try developing “hybrid ecosystems” – native and non-native species mixed in a way that benefits native biodiversity.

Molokai Nature Conservancy office to tap into solar power

KALAMAULA, Molokai – Sunlight will be providing the power needed to run lights, electronics and air conditioning at the Nature Conservancy’s office on Molokai beginning Wednesday, the environmental organization announced.

Rising Sun Solar of Maui installed the office’s 8.88-kilowatt photovoltaic array on the roof of the building in the Molokai Industrial Park on the hot and sunny leeward side.

“We were able to basically cover all of our energy needs and put a cap on our energy costs into the future,” said Suzanne Case, the conservancy’s Hawaii executive director. “It’s good for Hawaii both economically and in terms of sustainability.”

Tapping into sun power will help with the organization’s energy costs on Molokai, which has some of the highest electrical rates in the nation, according to Matias Besasso, a partner with Rising Sun Solar.

“Not only can it reduce costs, but it can lead to job creation and greater energy independence and self-sufficiency for Molokai’s people,” he said.

The conservancy’s Molokai director, Ed Misaki, said the solar energy system has been planned for three years.

“Going green is one of our big goals,” he said.

U.S. Forest Service receives $1.6M grant to study hybrid ecosystems in Hawaii

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Invasive species are so pervasive in Hawaii’s low-lying areas that the U.S. Forest Service says it’s not cost-effective or practical to eradicate them all. Instead, it’s launching new research into developing “hybrid ecosystems” that will incorporate some nonnative plants but allow native plants to thrive.

The service has received a $1.6 million grant from the Defense Department’s strategic environmental research program to study the possibility.

“Invasive species are so prevalent. You’re hand weeding, trying to eliminate them and aren’t able to keep up with them. It feels like you’re fighting a losing battle,” said Susan Cordell, research ecologist with the Forest Service. “Restoring these lowland tropical forests to a historic native state is not financially or physically feasible.”

Hawaii’s low-lying native trees and plants were wiped out by cattle, goats and other nonnative mammals that were set free to graze after the arrival of the first Europeans in the islands in the late 1700s. The animals trampled on ferns and undergrowth, drying the soil and tree roots. Later reforestation efforts resulted in the planting of fast-growing nonnative trees like eucalyptus instead of native trees.

To see intact native ecosystems, you have to climb high into the mountains.

Cordell said the grant will allow researchers to find ways for native species to “coexist” with some nonnative species.

Column One: Carnivorous plants losing ground in the U.S.

Scientists are on the trail of the little-understood meat-eaters like the California cobra lily and Venus’ flytrap, in decline amid rampant poaching and other human encroachment.

By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Quincy, Calif. —

“This is the easy part,” says Barry Rice, half-sliding, half-falling down a ravine through a latticework of dead branches.

Decades ago, lush stands of Darlingtonia californica — emerald plants coiled like fanged cobras ready to pounce — grew at this spot in the northern reaches of the Sierra Nevada.

Deep in the ravine, the air is hot and dead. Pieces of bark that have sloughed off trees make every step a danger — nature’s equivalent of a thousand forgotten skateboards cluttering a driveway. Slate tinkles underfoot, and the ground feels like stale angel-food cake: stiff yet porous.

Rice, a botanist at UC Davis, is not the first to hunt the cobra lily here in Butterfly Valley. In 1875, amateur botanist Rebecca Austin fed the plants raw mutton and carefully observed how they digested it.

Yet to this day, much of the plants’ biology and habitat remain unknown — which is why Rice is here, trying to find established populations.

Nature Conservancy faces potential backlash from ties with BP

In the days after the immensity of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico became clear, some Nature Conservancy supporters took to the organization’s Web site to vent their anger.

"The first thing I did was sell my shares in BP, not wanting anything to do with a company that is so careless," wrote one. Another added: "I would like to force all the BP executives, the secretaries and the shareholders out to the shore to mop up oil and wash the birds." Reagan De Leon of Hawaii called for a boycott of "everything BP has their hands in."

What De Leon didn’t know was that the Nature Conservancy lists BP as one of its business partners. The Conservancy also has given BP a seat on its International Leadership Council and has accepted nearly $10 million in cash and land contributions from BP and affiliated corporations over the years.

"Oh, wow," De Leon said when told of the depth of the relationship between the nonprofit group she loves and the company she hates. "That’s kind of disturbing."