Ka'? Preserve, Hawai'i Island.
Aerial, Ka'? Preserve. Ka'? Preserve, Hawai'i Island. © PhotoRyan De Seixas

Places We Protect

Ka‘ū Preserve

Island of Hawai‘i

Ka‘ū Preserve is part of the largest and most intact expanse of native forest in the state.

Overview

Ka‘ū Preserve is part of the largest and most intact expanse of native forest in the state. Made up of four separate parcels of forested land, the preserve features mountainous ridgelines with narrow plateaus broken by alternating steep valleys. Closed-canopy koa and ‘ōhi‘a forest shelters a lush understory of native uluhe and hāpu‘u tree ferns. Rare plants like the nuku ‘i‘iwi still survive here, along with rare and endangered forest birds like the Hawaiian hawk ('io) 'apapane, 'i'iwi, 'elepaio, 'amakihi and ‘ākepa.

Why TNC Selected This Site

All four parcels consist of nearly pristine native forest and form a boundary between the largely intact native alpine and subalpine forest above, and the agricultural land below.

During the last century, regular burning of the former sugar cane fields kept most weeds out of the forest. But the demise of sugar operations in 1997 opened up private lands to new weed invasions, which, in turn, threatened the native forests.

In 2002, TNC purchased four parcels of private forestlands adjoining the Ka‘ū Forest Reserve from a subsidiary of C. Brewer & Co., Ltd. Acquisition of these parcels enables management access to state forest reserve lands.

What TNC is Doing

The 100,000-acre Ka‘ū forest region consists primarily of state-owned forest reserve lands that were difficult for the state to access when these lands were bordered above and below by private land holdings. The Ka‘ū Preserve land now provides four different entry points to assist management of state lands.

TNC is actively managing the land to reduce feral animal populations and prevent new weed invasions. We are also working with neighboring landowners, local communities, state agencies, the National Park Service, and neighboring private landowners to protect the larger forest landscape.