© 2024 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
HPR's spring membership campaign is underway! Support the reporting, storytelling and music you depend on. Donate now

Researchers discover native trees are better for clean air than introduced plants

Alex Weggman
The Nature Conservancy
Manta rays at Palmyra Atoll.

The Nature Conservancy found that native trees are better for climate change than introduced and invasive trees. The study took place in the Palmyra Atoll about 1,000 miles south of the Hawaiian islands.

The team found native trees, such as pisonia grandis and heliotropium foertherianum, are better at capturing carbon than the invasive coconut palms that dominate 40% of the atoll.

Researchers think native trees have a more extensive root system. Therefore they can capture and put more carbon dioxide into the soil.

Alex Weggman, a senior scientist with The Nature Conservancy, told HPR, "This absolutely could work in Hawaiʻi."

"I don't think that coconut palms are invasive in Hawaiʻi the way that they were at Palmyra. However, I'm sure there are scenarios where, in Hawaiʻi, native trees or native forest systems will do a better job of capturing and sequestering carbon than the introduced plants that have replaced them," said Weggman.

The Nature Conservancy is currently working towards replacing 95% of the invasive coconut palms with native trees in Palmyra.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
Related Stories