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Individual Highlight

Team assesses invasive species threat to Hawaii and other U.S. ports of entry

Photo of Hawaii’s native forest, Oahu, Hawaii. Hawaii’s native forest, Oahu, Hawaii. Snapshot : Introduced through pathways of international trade and tourism, invasive insects and pathogens can strike anywhere. The Hawaiian Islands are especially vulnerable due to their dependence on trade with foreign countries and the mainland. Forest Service researchers, working with the U.S. Forest Service Wood Import and Pest Risk Assessment Mitigation and Evaluation Team (WIPRAMET), evaluated the risk of introducing nonnative pests that could endanger native Hawaiian plants. Lessons from this analysis are applicable to other U.S. ports of entry.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Glaeser, Jessie A. 
Research Location : Hawaii
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1241


The introduction of exotic insects and pathogens to the Hawaiian Islands could have devastating effects on native plants. Forest Service researchers collaborated with the Forest Service’s Wood Import and Pest Risk Assessment Mitigation and Evaluation Team (WIPRAMET) to evaluate the risk of introducing nonnative pests that would endanger native Hawaiian plants. They developed pest risk assessments by estimating the likelihood and consequences of the introduction of representative insects and pathogens of concern. Likely pathways of introduction also were assessed. Twenty-four individual pest risk assessments were prepared, 12 dealing with insects and 12 with pathogens. Six priority findings resulted from the analysis: • Inspection alone is not 100 percent effective in preventing introductions. • The primary sources of introductions are mainland United States and the Asia-Pacific region. • There is a strong need to make visitors aware that they are an important potential source of unwanted introductions. • Plant materials, especially live plants, are the most important source of pest problems for Hawaii. • The wood packing material pathway is insufficiently inspected and regulated. And, • The interstate movement of certain plant materials from Hawaii to the mainland is restricted, but similar restrictions on interstate movement to Hawaii are not. The Hawaiian Department of Agriculture used this analysis to develop a biosecurity plan. Many of the findings are also applicable to ports of entry on the mainland.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • State and Private Forestry Wood Import and Pest Risk Assessment and Mitigation Evaluation Team
  • Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Program Areas