Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR)

The invasive species problem in Hawaii

The invasive species problem in Hawaii

The silent invasion of Hawai'i by insects, disease organisms, snakes, weeds, and other pests is the single greatest threat to Hawaii's economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii's people. Pests already cause millions of dollars in crop losses, the extinction of native species, the destruction of native forests, and the spread of disease. But many more harmful pests now threaten to invade Hawai'i and wreak further damage. Even one new pest--like the brown tree snake--could forever change the character of our islands. Stopping the influx of new pests and containing their spread is essential to Hawaii's future well-being.

Despite the efforts of more than 20 state, federal, and private agencies, unwanted alien pests are entering Hawai'i at an alarming rate - about 2 million times more rapid than the natural rate. In 1993, the federal Office of Technology Assessment declared Hawaii's alien pest species problem the worst in the nation. Hawaii's evolutionary isolation from the continents, and its modern role as the commercial hub of the Pacific make these islands particularly vulnerable to destruction by alien pests. Gaps in current pest prevention systems and a lack of public awareness add further to this serious problem.

(Text courtesy of CGAPS.)

To learn more about the problem of invasive alien species in Hawaii, refer to The Silent Invasion. For an excellent introduction to the problem of invasive plants in Hawaii (including specific information about how horticultural plants can be extremely problematic), see Hawaii's Most Invasive Horticultural Plants.

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This page was created on 13 August 2003 by PT, and was last updated on 10 August 2017. by PT.