Make Forever the Koa Forests of Maui
Prior to the 1800s, the leeward flanks of Haleakalā on the island of Maui were covered in extensive forests. Considered to be among the most robust and diverse in the archipelago, these forests supported an abundance of native Hawaiian flora and fauna, some of which is found nowhere else in the world. Through fog interception the trees, in some cases over 100 feet tall, contributed to much greater levels of water resources in this rainfall-challenged region. Over the past 200 years, systematic deforestation due to overgrazing by feral ungulates and the introduction of invasive plant species and diseases has reduced forest cover to less than 10% of former extents. The disappearance of Maui’s majestic leeward forests has triggered the loss of 5-8 feet of topsoil in some areas, leaf litter and forest duff. Despite this degradation, the region is a near-ideal candidate for restoration due to the absence of shade-adapted forest weeds and characteristics of the dominant canopy tree species (koa).
The Leeward Haleakalā Watershed Restoration Partnership (LHWRP) is a coalition formed in June 2003, by 11 private and public landowners and supporting agencies. It is also a research project of the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (PCSU) of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The 43,175-acre partnership’s goal is to restore dryland forests on Haleakalā from Makawao through ‘Ulupalakua to Kaupō between 3,500 and 6,500 feet elevation.
We would like to thank all of the LHWRP landowners for their inspiration and vision to restore and preserve the leeward forests and who graciously allow us access to their lands, our supporting partners who provide us with guidance, fiscal necessities and the dedication that helps us implement our restoration management plans, and the Maui community whose participation helps inspire us to continue to work towards our goals and ensures that unique and beautiful areas of Maui, will continue to be protected for generations to come.