Science Excellence

2012 Rachel Carson Award for Scientific Excellence

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii. Credit: Jim Clark / USFWsBaron Horiuchi

The 2012 Rachel Carson Award for Scientific Excellence is given in recognition of Baron Horiuchi's outstanding and unique contribution toward native plant restoration at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.

Baron's contributions, as the only horticulturalist in the Fish and Wildlife Service, have been critical to adaptive management efforts and recovery of rare native plants at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on Hawai'i Island. Baron propagates plant species never before propagated, and actively experiments with new ways to germinate, propagate, and out-plant endangered and common native plant species. Due to Baron's persistence and ingenuity, endangered plants such as the lobeliad Cyanea shipmanii with only three known individuals in the wild have increased 30-fold, elevating their potential for recovery and reducing their risk of extinction. More than 5,700 other plants of seven endangered species have been propagated from seeds and cuttings, greenhouse grown, and out-planted into protected areas. Baron has spearheaded a program with many conservation partners and organized volunteer groups over the past 16 years in the management of the Hakalau Forest NWR greenhouse operation; volunteer weekends are fully booked a year in advance.

The result of all these efforts is the return of forest habitat. Native forest birds have returned to an area that was open pasture from cattle grazing just 20 years ago. Many of the common bird species, such as 'apapane, 'i'iwi, 'elepaio, and 'amakihi, are seen regularly within the replanted areas. In addition, the endangered Hawai'i creeper and 'akiapôlâ'au regularly forage in the replanted koa groves. Hakalau Forest NWR is one of the only locations where native Hawaii forest bird populations are stable or increasing. Koa forest restoration at Hakalau has served as a hopeful model of how Hawaiian forest may be restored elsewhere and creates a necessary hedge against extinction for many Hawaiian bird species. For his scientific contributions toward native plant propagation and restoration, Baron Horiuchi is hereby granted the 2012 Rachel Carson Award for Scientific Excellence of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Last updated: March 21, 2017

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