The Hawaii Rare Plant Restoration Group (HRPRG), which includes about 150 members, meets to share information about monitoring, collecting, propagation, reintroduction and restoration of rare Hawaiian plants; plus to plan new initiatives. The Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service co-chair the working group, coordinate mailings, and furnish meeting summaries. The Group is also the Hawaii Plant Specialist Group under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The Hawaii Rare Plant Restoration Group focuses on emergency actions needed to keep species from going extinct. This Group has developed guidelines for rare plant monitoring, collection, nursery protocols, and reintroduction tailored to the flora of Hawaii. The Group has focused on the emergency actions needed for the rarest of the rare plants in Hawaii. HRPRG has initiated an island-based Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) program initiative to capture and restore the botanical diversity of Hawaii’s most endangered plants. These island-based subgroups focus on species with fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild from each island to determine exact management needs and how to accomplish each action. One of the first projects HRPRG was instrumental in establishing was mid-evelation rare plant nurseries on the four major islands of Hawaii (Volcano), Oahu (Pahole), Kauai (Kokee) and Maui (Olinda).
The Hawaii Rare Plant Restoration Group has also begun the process of IUCN rankings for 50% of Hawaii’s flora that is at-risk. In 2003, the Group completed rankings for 125 at-risk species. These rankings and the extinction risks on island ecosystems were the focus of a November 2003 media blitz by IUCN. Since then, rankings have been drafted for 55 additional species. Together, this totals less than 50% of the Hawaiian species warranting IUCN at-risk status, indicating a large job ahead.
The current projects HRPRG is working on include:
Statewide Database to track and share rare plant information
Continued support for Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) and Mid-elevation nurseries
Mentoring program for private landowners
Seed storage protocols