East Hawaii News

Ohia Seed Conservation Campaign Exceeds Original Goal

April 27, 2016, 11:01 AM HST
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University of Hawai'i photo.

University of Hawai’i photo.

The University of Hawai’i’s Lyon Arboretum Seed Conservation Laboratory began a crowdfunding campaign in February to raise resources to bank ohia tree seeds as Rapid Ohia Death, also known as ROD, swept the Big Island.

Organizers with the laboratory say that the public support was so strong for the seed banking initiative that they increased their fundraising goal from $35,000 to $50,000.

“Increasing our goal to $50,000 will allow us to double the amount of seeds collected, processed, and stored,” said Lyon Arboretum Seed Conservation Laboratory Manager and project leader Marian Chau. “The additional funds would also allow two additional trips to Hawaiʻi Island to collect more potentially ROD-resistant ohia tree seeds that could be highly valuable for restoration.”

In two months, the campaign raised its initial goal with 407 individual contributions. Money raised thus far has allowed staff to start the collection, processing, and preservation of the ohia seeds. The seeds would be used to re-introduce the species into forests.

On the Big Island, over 100,000 ohia trees have been killed by ROD, according to Lyon Arboretum officials. The death of the trees plays a role in the Hawaiian forest ecosystem changes.

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Seed banking was selected as a way to preserve the future of the ohia species as a result of its proven technique for plant conservation during crisis that put species at risk.

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The Seed Conservation Laboratory aims to prevent the extinction of rate plant species in Hawai’i. There are over 11 million seeds, with a representation of about 40 native Hawaiian flora in the seed bank.

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