Hawai‘i’s native forests are among the world's biological treasures, sheltering more than 10,000 unique species. These forests serve as our islands’ primary watersheds, supplying us with hundreds of billions of gallons of fresh water each year. They protect our reefs and beaches from destructive run-off and sediment, clean and cool our air, and are vital to the survival of Hawaiian cultural practices.
But Hawai‘i’s native forests are also among the most threatened in the world. Hawai‘i has lost half of its native forest cover and is home to more than one-third of the plants and birds on the U.S. Endangered Species List. When spiders, snails and insects are included, nearly 60% of the islands’ total native flora and fauna is endangered, by far the highest percentage of any state.
Destruction and the loss of forest habitat are the primary causes of species decline.
While the historical impacts from agriculture, grazing, logging and development are responsible for much of this loss, the greater threat today is the destruction wrought by invasive plants and animals, including feral pigs, goats, rats, weeds and insects.
Invasive species prey upon and destroy the habitat of native species, compete with them for food and habitat, and spread diseases. Over time, they transform the forests they invade, changing them from native to non-native, simplifying their structure, altering soil composition, increasing the risk of fire and endangering our future water supply.
WHAT THE CONSERVANCY IS DOING
Propelled by a sense of urgency, the Conservancy is working statewide with local communities and conservation partners to protect our native forests. Our strategic approach is focused on:
Preserve Management: Safeguarding the rich reservoirs of biodiversity found in the Conservancy’s statewide system of preserves.
Watershed Partnerships: Working with other landowners to build collaborative public-private partnerships that protect 2.2 million acres of watershed forests and conservation lands.
Conservation Innovation: Advancing new methods to control invasive animal and weed populations and their destructive impacts on native forests.