‘Ōhi‘a lehua is a species of tree endemic to the islands of Hawai‘i. Its existence is vital to the survival of many pollinator insects and endangered bird species and to the integrity of multiple islands’ watersheds. Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) is an emerging fungal disease that poses a significant health risk for these trees and is spread by human traffic, ambrosia beetles, and wind dispersal. Loss of ‘ōhi’a forests will negatively affect Hawai‘i’s economy and ecology and will have detrimental impacts on Hawaiian culture, particularly because of the role of lehua flowers in hula. While transmission of ROD Death is not yet fully understood, human activity is currently considered the main proponent of its spread. Hawai‘i’s economy is largely built on the tourism industry; however, tourists are often unaware of the disease and the practices implemented to contain the current outbreak while visiting the Hawaiian Islands. ROD is a conservation issue that connects humans with the environment and must be addressed using a one-health perspective. This article aims to elucidate the anthropogenic factors contributing to the depletion of ‘ōhi‘a lehua through the spread of ROD and to propose prevention measures that can be adopted by citizens and visitors. At the end of this case study, readers will understand the cultural, ecological, and economic significance of ‘ōhi’a lehua. Readers will also be able to identify important stakeholders and examine the complexity of behavior change in conservation issues.
Saving ‘Ōhi‘a: A Case Study on the Influence of Human Behavior on Ecological Degradation Through an Examination of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death and Its Impacts on the Hawaiian Islands
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Dayna Martinez, Elena M. I. Duran, Natalie Bauer; Saving ‘Ōhi‘a: A Case Study on the Influence of Human Behavior on Ecological Degradation Through an Examination of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death and Its Impacts on the Hawaiian Islands. Case Studies in the Environment 1 January 2020; 4 (1): 1104118. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/cse.2020.1104118
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