By Ruby Pap

Kupu Conservation Intern Susan Deans is seen here in Hanakāpī‘ai Valley, Nāpali Coast. Photo by Seana Walsh/NTBG

Kupu Conservation Intern Susan Deans is seen here in Hanakāpī‘ai Valley, Nāpali Coast. Photo by Seana Walsh/NTBG

This month, the world’s largest environmental and nature conservation event is being held in Honolulu. The selection of Hawai‘i as host for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress brings attention to islands as small scale representations of environmental issues facing the planet.

Kauai’s conservation efforts provide important conservation backdrop to the WCC. The National Tropical Botanical Garden recently spearheaded a statewide group to target over half of Hawai‘i’s native plants for the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. The koki‘o ke‘oke‘o (Hibiscus waimea subsp. Hannarae) story is a wonderful illustration of an iconic Kaua‘i plant on the list. You are probably well familiar with the beautiful ornamental hibiscus flower, landscaping countless home and commercial gardens. What you may not know is these versions are nonnative, and that Kaua‘i has its own endemic hibiscus that is critically endangered due to invasive species, feral pigs and a possible loss of pollinators.