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New Seed Banking Initiative Addresses Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death

September 5, 2017, 9:00 AM HST
* Updated September 5, 12:41 PM
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The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Lyon Arboretum is leading an effort to expand the collection and saving of ʻōhiʻa seeds throughout the state in response to the Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD) crisis.

Through funding from the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority (HTA), the Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Seed Banking Initiative seeks to scale up seed collection efforts through public participation, and to preserve endangered native plants affected by the spread of ROD. The program builds upon the momentum of #OhiaLove.

The initiative will provide free public ʻŌhiʻa Seed Conservation Workshops on every island to train communities on proper collection and handling procedures without disturbing local habitats. The program also provides storage services for collected seeds at facilities on multiple islands.

Marian Chau of the Seed Conservation Laboratory at UH Mānoa’s Lyon Arboretum said: “We will be training people on the best methods to collect and process ʻōhiʻa seeds so they can be useful for conservation and seed banking and we will be providing this to the general public – anyone who’s interested in getting involved with saving ʻōhiʻa seeds.”

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The ROD initiative will also partner with the Plant Extinction Prevention Program (PEPP) to protect critically endangered species with less than 50 individual plans remaining in the wild. The spread of ROD further threatens endangered plants through potentially devastating ecosystem changes. The program step up seed collection efforts from as many remaining rare plants as possible to be secured at the Lyon’s Seed Conservation Lab.

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