Across Kohala Mountain, forests are collecting and storing the rainwater that feeds native life and supports human communities. Proactive protection and restoration of native forests ensures these life-giving ecosystem services will continue into the distant future.
The Kohala Mountain Watershed Management Plan was drafted in 2006, went through an extensive Environmental Assessment, (EA) process, and received final approval from the State Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) in 2008. This plan designates a 6,600 acre area of high rainfall and aquifer recharge near the summit and on the windward slopes of Kohala as four “High-yield Watershed Unit” reserves. Another 3,000 acres spread across 10 management units are designated as “Biodiversity Unit” preserves, managed to protect unique native species and ecosystems.
In order to protect and sustain native forested watershed on Kohala Mountain from the #1 threats of invasive plants and feral animals, we must
Control feral animals
Control invasive plants
Some non-native plants have the potential to displace native species and alter the water trapping and storage functions of the forested watershed. Once a fence is built and the feral animals are removed, we work on controlling the invasive plants within the managed area. Volunteers have donated hundreds of hours to invasive plant control efforts at two Biodiversity Preserves: Kilohana Stream and Puʻu Pili.
Plant native species
At the Koaia Corridor Native Plant Sanctuary site, we are restoring native forest species to a strip of land that was turned into pasture by the combined influences of deforestation and cattle over many years. The plants are grown from seed that we collect on the mountain, propagated at the State Tree Nursery, and then outplanted by our crew and volunteers. We also plant native species within our Biodiversity units to augment populations of rare and Endangered plants.
Other projects in Hawaiʻi focused on ecosystem restoration include the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project http://www.facebook.com/MKFRP, the Kaʻupulehu Dryland Forest project http://www.hawaiiforest.org/reports/dryland_restoration.html and Auwahi on Maui http://www.auwahi.org/.