Biodiversity Conservation

The native species of Kohala are truly unique; some of the plants and animals in our native forests are endemic to Kohala, which means they are found nowhere else on earth. Here are two examples:

Partulina physa

Partulina physa, (pupu kani oe) – This tree snail was historically common on Hawaiʻi island, but was thought extinct until rediscovered by Jon Giffin in 1992 on Kohala Mountain. These rare snails live their entire lives in the trees, eating fungus that grows on leaves. They live very long and give birth to one offspring at a time, after incubating the egg inside their shells. The creation of the Kanea’a-Ponoholo Biodiversity Preserve was motivated by the need for protection of these snails and their habitat.

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Clermontia species (oha wai) – Members of the bellflower family, these flowering small trees are extremely diverse.  Of the five species found on Kohala Mountain, four of them are only found on North Hawaii Island.  There are even more varieties found here than the 5 species, because they hybridize! The flowers produce abundant nectar and pollen, which are a food source for native birds and insects. Puʻu Pili Biodiversity Preserve has at least 4 of our oha wai species.

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According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), montane cloud forests like those found on the summit of Kohala are globally rare, and contain a disproportionately large number of the world’s rare and endemic species.

The dwarf ʻōhia bogs of Kohalaʻs windward slopes are unique in the world, and most of the remaining bogs of this type are found on Kohala.  The centuries-old trees and shrubs are stunted because of the harsh environmental conditions in which they survive, with saturated, low-nutrient soils, and blasting winds. Windward cloud forests and bogs are protected in the Upper Laupahoehoe Watershed Reserve.

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