Aloha, and Welcome to the Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) Program Homepage!
The Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) Program’s mission is to protect Hawai`i’s rarest native plants from extinction. We are committed to reverse the trend toward extinction by managing wild plants, collecting seeds and establishing new populations. We focus on species that have fewer than 50 plants remaining in the wild, collaborating with conservation partners who have a shared interest in preserving Hawai`i’s unique biodiversity.
Hawai`i’s relative isolation has made it a biological hotspot with one of the highest rates of plant diversity in the world. Approximately 90% of Hawai`i’s flora is endemic, found only in Hawai`i and nowhere else in the world. But this diversity is in peril. Already Hawai`i has lost half of its native flora, and 10% or more of its remaining plant species go extinct each year. The loss of habitat, which is a direct and cumulative effect of human occupation, land conversion, invasive non-native plants and animals, intentionally and unintentionally set wildfires, and other anthropogenic threats, greatly contributes to this loss. Hawai`i has the dubious distinction of being “the endangered species capitol of the world,” with 37% of all endangered plant species in the United States and the highest number of endangered plant species on earth (274). Yet Hawai`i comprises only a small fraction of the earth’s land area (0.02%), resulting in extreme diversity over very small areas. To date, Hawai`i is home to an overwhelming 201 species that have fewer than 50 plants remaining in the wild, coined “PEP species.”
The PEP Program
The Plant Extinction Prevention (PEP) Program seeks to protect Hawai`i’s unique diversity by conserving Hawai`i’s most critically rare plant species through collaboration with large and small private, state, and federal landowners, land managers, researchers, and other partners. We are a federally, state, and privately funded endangered plant program comprised of a team of dedicated, specialized botanists that serve as island PEP coordinators versed in rare plant identification and natural resources management. Field work can be grueling, labor-intensive, and conducted in some of the most rugged terrains and remote sites in Hawai`i. For this reason, island PEP coordinators are field-experienced in rappelling, helicopter operations, chainsaw use, pesticide use, animal control, fence construction, and extreme hiking and camping. We are also personally and professionally committed to do what we can to preserve our biological legacy for future generations.
In 2011, the PEP Program and its conservation partners implemented protection actions for 114 federally listed Endangered and Threatened plant species, 24 Candidate species, and 24 Species of Concern. Generally, the PEP Program and its partners implement the highest priority recovery actions identified in endangered plant recovery plans and in the State of Hawai`i’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, October 2005. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, State Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) and other botanical experts of the Hawai`i Rare Plant Restoration Group (HRPRG) provide oversight for the program. The HRPRG, which conceived and developed the PEP Program, is a consortium of over 35 conservation agencies and organizations and private landowners. To conduct highly sensitive work on endangered species, we hold all necessary federal and state collection permits.
Want to know more about what we do? Click here!