Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Sovereign sugar: industry and environment in Hawaii.

Abstract

Although little remains of Hawaii's plantation economy, the sugar industry's past dominance has created the Hawaii we see today. Many of the most pressing and controversial issues (urban and resort development, water rights, expansion of suburbs into agriculturally rich lands, pollution from herbicides, invasive species in native forests, and an unsustainable economy) can be tied to Hawaii's industrial sugar history. This book unravels the tangled relationship between the sugar industry and Hawaii's cultural and natural landscapes. It examines the complex tapestry of socioeconomic, political, and environmental forces that shaped sugar's role in Hawaii. While early Polynesian and European influences on island ecosystems started the process of biological change, plantation agriculture, with its voracious need for land and water, profoundly altered Hawaii's landscape. The book focuses on the rise of industrial and political power among the sugar planter elite and its political-ecological consequences. The book opens in the 1840s when the Hawaiian Islands were under the influence of American missionaries. Changes in property rights and the move toward Western governance, along with the demands of a growing industrial economy, pressed upon the new Hawaiian nation and its forests and water resources. Subsequent chapters trace island ecosystems, plantation communities, and natural resource policies through time - by the 1930s, the sugar economy engulfed both human and environmental landscapes. It is argued that sugar manufacture has not only significantly transformed Hawaii but its legacy provides lessons for future outcomes.