One of the essays in this volume is Losing Paradise by Otto and Isa Degener. For many decades in the 20th century, Drs. Otto and Isa Degener botanized and published on the Hawaiian flora while they served as Collaborators in Hawaiian Botany with The New York Botanical Garden. Most of their prodigious published scholarship¹ appeared in the monumental Flora Hawaiiensis and related works, but the Degeners were also prolific writers of articles for the lay public on plant conservation themes in the Hawaiian Islands. One particularly powerful, but unpublished essay was discovered in The Otto Degener Records (1920-1987) of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden while research was being done for the exhibition Georgia O'Keeffe: Visions of Hawai'i. The Degeners' essay captures the essence of the botanical couple's own vision of Hawai'i as it relates to the many threats posed to the archipelago's native flora. In 1985, the Degeners wrote Losing Paradise in response to a May 31, 1985, article² in Science magazine describing a debate between commercial and environmental interests over the industrial chipping of old-growth trees for biofuel on the Big Island. This never-before published essay provides a deeply insightful view of the Degenerianvision of the complex origins, present state, and precarious fate of the authors' beloved Hawaiian ecosystems.


¹ "Bibliography of Otto and Isa Degeners' Hawaiian Floras." Susan W. Mill, Warren L. Wagner, Derral R. Herbst. Taxon, Vol. 34, No. 2 (May, 1985), pp. 229-259.Stable URL:

² "Hawaiian rainforest being felled: woodchippingoperation decried by scientists as sorry model for bioenergy development." Constance Holden, Science 228 (May 31, 1985), pp. 1073-74.

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