He ali `i ka `āina, he kauwā ke kanaka ” The land is chief, man its servant”
— Mary Kawena Pukui, ‘Ölelo No’eau
Defending Existing ForestsThe LHWRP Management Plan (2006) mapped and identified remaining tracts of native watershed forest on southern Haleakalā. Protection of the last native forests of this region were identified in this plan as the highest priority of the Partnership. An LHWRP-DHHL-DLNR project to protect this forest tract through the construction of 19.6 miles (31.5km) of ungulate-proof fencing is in the final stages of preparation in Kahikinui. Over 7,300 acres of native upland watershed of southeast Maui will be protected, including 2,800 acres of koa -`ohi`a forest and 4,500 acres of upland mamane (Sophora) forest, sub-alpine heath, and alpine stonelands. Natural recovery supplemented by reforestation will initiate significant recovery trajectories for arthropod and bird species, most notably three key native bird species listed as Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
With reference to fossil and historic records, the forested areas to be protected in Kahikinui were once part of the range of what is now one of the rarest birds in the world (< 500 birds), the Maui Parrotbill (Pseudonestor xanthophrys), now restricted to small tracts of rainforest on Haleakalā’s northern and eastern slopes. Post-fencing recovery of koa -`ohi`a forest habitat at Kahikinui is an essential component of ongoing efforts to stabilize declining populations through reintroduction of the species into its former habitat.Kahikinui is an ideal site for restoration of the Maui Parrotbill because of the abundance of essential food plants required by the prey of this insectivorous bird, as well as the regional absence of night-biting mosquitoes (Culex quinquefasciatus) which, as sole vector for introduced avian malaria, have decimated Hawaiian avifauna populations. During the next five to ten years, the focus will be restoring koa/ohia forests for bird habitat in addition to creating micro-sites for future reintroductions of rare and Endangered plants. Beyond ten years the koa forest canopy should begin to close and the habitat contiguous with the surrounding national park boundaries should provide forest bird habitat for the reintroduction of Maui Parrotbill to the leeward slopes of Haleakala.
The public will benefit from this project in a number of ways. First and foremost the community will have the opportunity to be involved in active restoration during out-planting work days. These trips reward participants with a wealth of information about Maui’s ecosystems and how they function and more importantly what people can do to help recover their functionality. We will be working with a number of our partners to complete this project.
The LHWRP crew has assisted other landowners within the partnership to survey for endangered and invasive species, install fence lines, remove ungulates and collect seeds from a variety of plants including koa. Acacia Koa seed resources are limited and the seeds we collect will assist with a small tree plot farm. Associated research is focused on breeding trees that are resistant to Fusarium oxysporum, a soil borne fungus known to fatal to native loa trees.
In 1913 Auwahi forest was described by eminent biologist J.F. Rock as one of the most diverse forest tracts in the islands. Despite this, from 1913-1990 Auwahi forest declined dramatically due to the combined impacts of fire, grazing animals, and invasion by kikuyu grass. In the late 1990s, with the support and encouragement of the Erdman family of `Ulupalakua Ranch and the financial sponsorship of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a new and innovative approach to restoration was initiated at Auwahi. The technique utilizes native shrub species such as a’ali’i (Dodonea viscosa) as “ecosystem engineers” to progressively modify microhabitats to increase regional aquifer recharge, deter re-invasion by invasive species, and trigger natural reproduction of rare native tree species.Cover of non-native species declined from 87% in 1997 to 8% in 2002, and continues to remain low at 7%. Survival of rare species has been 79%, well exceeding the expectations of native plant experts. This unprecedented ecological success could not have happened without the tireless efforts of the Maui Restoration Group’s volunteer program. Throughout the last 20 years, the LHWRP crew has assisted the MRG on over 250 volunteer trips with over 120,000 native seedlings planted.
Puu Makua is a cinder cone on the southwest rift of East Maui also on Ulupalakua ranch lands. The area is a restoration site for the native Hawaiian koa tree and is part of a regional effort to improve the watershed of Leeward Haleakala. Over 2000 trees have been planted with the LHWRP crew overseeing the volunteer program for the site.