Laukahi’s 2020 Ex Situ Assessment: Measuring progress toward Target 8 of the Hawaiʻi Strategy for Plant Conservation

Emily Grave, Laukahi: The Hawaiʻi Plant Conservation

Network Goals to conserve global biodiversity are achieved when local efforts coalesce around specific measurable objectives. The Laukahi Network is implementing the Hawaiʻi Strategy for Plant Conservation (HSPC) following the framework of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation and adopting the targets most relevant to our needs. The HSPC focuses Laukahi’s efforts on the protection of Species of Conservation Importance (SCI), the remarkable plants that comprise our native ecosystems. Both the Hawaiʻi and Global Strategies set targets for ex situ collections, and Target 8 calls for “at least 75% of SCI (to be) secured with adequate ex situ collections by 2020.” In an effort to update the previous ex situ assessment (2012), uncover where gaps in our protection exist, and measure progress toward this Target, Laukahi surveyed and inventoried 36 ex situ facilities (1 micropropagation lab, 11 seed banks, 16 nurseries, 7 gardens, and 1 preserve) for SCI collections in 2020. To determine the extent of genetic diversity stored in these facilities, the number of maternal lines in storage for each SCI were compared with wild population data. Upon analysis, we were able to ascertain the percentage of SCI represented in ex situ, discover taxa that were not well represented, then compare the resulting data with the 2012 assessment. We discovered that Hawaiʻi is effectively conserving 83% of SCI in facilities across the state, which meets and exceeds the metric for Target 8. We also illuminated some trends in our collecting efforts, six main takeaways, and were able to identify 36 rare and vulnerable taxa in desperate need of ex situ conservation. From this assessment, our conservation partners now possess critical information that will help to conserve more of the genetic diversity that exists in our unique and precious flora.