Protecting Lands and Waters
Hawai‘i’s native forests are irreplaceable natural, cultural and economic assets that supply us with fresh water and a host of other benefits. By applying our conservation experience, scientific knowledge and technical expertise to their protection, TNC is removing the threats to the long-term survival of these vital natural systems.
After Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death’s (ROD) discovery on Kaua‘i, TNC-Hawai‘i was part of the first line of defense, contracting aerial surveys of 5,550 acres of the Moloa‘a forest reserve, site of the ROD outbreak. The surveys identified 675 potentially dead or dying ʻōhiʻa trees—aiding in early response to a fungus that threatens the survival of the Hawaiian forest’s mother tree.
On Hawai‘i Island, where ROD was first detected in 2014, the fungus has affected more than 135,000 acres, and half a million ʻōhiʻa trees have died. Currently, there is no known cure for ROD, so early detection and response is critical to preventing its spread.
To halt the advance of non-native pine trees invading Maui’s Haleakalā summit, TNC removed 4,000 trees from 2,000 acres of native forest and shrubland at Waikamoi Preserve. The removal will protect and restore habitat for endangered native species, decrease the risk of fire and preserve the ability of the native forest to capture and provide water.
Pine growth on Haleakalā has been rapidly increasing for the past decade. The trees have spread into native forest areas and stark volcanic landscapes, where they form dense stands that shade everything else out and create severe fire hazards. Pines thrive on high volcanic summits and will fill that ecological niche if not controlled.
Restoring a Bog
At Kanaele, Kaua‘i, TNC-Hawai‘i has the special kuleana to care for the state’s last remaining low-elevation bog. With the construction of 1.2 miles of fence to prevent ingress by feral pigs and the removal of 90,000 invasive weeds, this one-of-a-kind ecosystem now has 95% plant coverage, 97% of which is native.
Both rare and common native plants are thriving, and the wetland is once again able to collect rainwater that pools and flows down into Kauaʻi’s fresh-water aquifer. Outside the bog fence line, invasive weeds dominate the area and feral pigs continue to dig and create wallows where native plants cannot survive. Without TNC’s protective efforts, the bog would have suffered a similar fate.
Danny Boren grew up enjoying the outdoors on Maui. Upon returning to the island after college, he acted on a dream to start an outdoor business. That business, Skyline Hawai‘i, was the first commercial zipline operation in the U.S., and from the start Boren decided to use it to help protect Hawai‘i’s environment. “I didn’t want to be a tourism operator who wasn’t giving back,” he says. “So, from year one we began making donations, and TNC was one of the first groups we donated to.”
Boren now operates two ziplines on Maui and one on Kaua‘i. He also has a franchise near ‘Akaka Falls on Hawai‘i Island. Through them, he continues to give generously to TNC and is a longtime member of our Corporate Council for the Environment. “Being able to invest in sustaining Hawai‘i and make a positive impact is what I’m most proud of as a businessman,” he says. “To me, it’s more important than profits. It’s something that my family and I and the entire crew at Skyline are very proud of.”