National parks provide important habitat for plants and animals and are some of the most bio-diverse places in the country. Even among these nationally significant lands and waters, Hawaii’s parks stand out as special. Dubbed the “endangered species capital of the world,” this tropical archipelago is home to a vibrant and unique array of plant and animal life — and a shocking number of species that are in danger of becoming extinct.
According to Hawaii’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, nearly 90 percent of the state’s 1,400 plant species are unique to Hawaii, the state is home to 44 percent of the country’s total endangered plant species, and more than 200 of these species have 50 or fewer individual plants remaining. Even worse: More than 100 of the state’s plant species have already gone extinct.
Haleakalā, on the island of Maui, hosts a total of 103 endangered species: 81 flowering plants, 10 birds, six non-flowering plants (such as ferns), three insects, two mammals and one reptile.
What these vulnerable creatures have in common with each other and with rare species on the mainland such as the grizzly bear, Florida panther and California condor is that they all need the Endangered Species Act to thrive.