Spotlight on Hawaii
The Pacific islands of Hawaii are more than 400 miles (644 km) from the nearest neighboring land. Today these islands are undergoing ecological disaster. With more than 1 million residents and 6 million tourists visiting every year and crowding onto its lowlands, the coastal ecosystems have suffered heavy damage from human use.
Over millions of years, the Hawaiian islands have developed numerous plant and animal species found nowhere else. In addition to habitat destruction, Hawaii’s native species have been severely preyed upon and out-competed by introduced species of both plants and animals. No land mammals, reptiles, or amphibians are native to Hawaii.
Most of the food crops now grown in Hawaii were brought by humans. Since the first Europeans arrived in 1778, at least 104 species of native plants and 26 native bird species have been extirpated.