Ecosystem Restoration

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.

Land Ownership and Management Units
In order to protect and sustain native forested watershed on Kohala Mountain from the #1 threats of invasive plants and feral animals, we must

Build fences

Native Hawaiian ecosystems evolved in the absence of terrestrial mammals, so trampling, uprooting, and browsing from feral ungulates, including pigs, cattle, and goats, damages the structure of the forest and reduces native plant populations. In addition, feral animals transport the seeds of alien invasive plants. In order to manage native forests and address the threat of invasive plants, we must first build animal-proof fences.As of mid-2011, over 30 miles of ungulate-proof fencing have been constructed by KWP.
Building a fence at Kaneaʻa

Building a fence at Kaneaʻa to control feral pigs and cattle.

Control feral animals

The next step to preserving native forest ecosystems is to remove feral animals from within the fenced area. This process usually involves a combination of trapping and hunting, and the methods for control, disposition of the animals, and involvement of the public are dictated by the wishes of the land owner. We use humane methods, and try as much as possible to provide meat to the community.

Trapping and transporting feral cattle.

Trapping and transporting feral cattle.

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.

State Tree Nursery

Native plants being propagated at the State Tree Nursery in Waimea.

Other projects in Hawaiʻi focused on ecosystem restoration include the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project, the Kaʻupulehu Dryland Forest project and Auwahi on Maui

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