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This is Invasive Species Awareness Month

KALAHEO — According to National Tropical Botanical Garden and the state, February is Hawai‘i Invasive Species Awareness Month, and the Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee is hosting virtual meetings for a week this month to discuss invasive species found on Kaua‘i and how residents can identify and report them.

“I think of it as a fantastic way to inform and remind all of us about the fragility and uniqueness of Hawaiian species and the constant threats they are under from non-native species that have been introduced to the islands,” said Tim Flynn, NTBG’s curator of the herbarium.

“To control or eradicate a problem, you must first know what you are dealing with so that you can then tailor your response to that particular problem species,” Flynn said. “It is also good to know how those invasive species got here in the first place.”

The invasive species on Kaua‘i are much too numerous to list, but some of the worst are pigs, deer, goats, rats, strawberry guava, miconia, clidemia and buddleia, he said.

The NTBG said ‘ohi‘a trees are the most abundant, ecologically important and culturally significant plants in Hawai‘i. They provide food and shelter for native animals and endangered forest birds, facilitate healthy soil development, aid in replenishing aquifers, and are prominent in many Hawaiian stories, songs and chants.

However, in 2014, two culprits that cause rapid ‘ohi‘a death were identified as invasive microscopic fungi.

NTBG said the deadly fungal spores spread easily through the air and invade ‘ohi‘a through broken branches or wounds in the trees. More than 135,000 acres of native forest on Hawai‘i Island have been affected and, in 2018, the fungal pathogens were also found on Kaua‘i, Maui and O‘ahu.

“I would hope that we would all be cognizant of the uniqueness of this island paradise and the constant pressures it is facing, and let that knowledge inform our actions,” Flynn said.

“For general plant identification, NTBG is a great first option, If someone finds a plant that they think is a problem, it would be best to contact the Kauai Invasive Species Committee. KISC is really the tip of the spear in the effort to combat invasive species on Kaua‘i.”

On Monday, Feb. 22, KISC will be discussing ‘ohi‘a and native plants’ importance in the nahele of Koke‘e and Wailua watersheds. They will also highlighting the spread of ROD on Kaua‘i on their Facebook and IG profiles. There will be virtual discussions for the public to join from Monday, Feb. 22 to Saturday, Feb. 27.

“Community involvement and collaboration is a key factor in addressing any invasive-species issue on Kaua‘i. As a community, we can help protect Kauai,” said Tiffani Keanini, KISC manager.

For more information, see tgilinks.com/3jGGSWg

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Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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