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Healthy and Productive Forests, A Growing Part of Hawaii’s Future

Our forests provide watershed, soil, and species habitat protection as well as recreational, educational, cultural, and employment opportunities. Where appropriate, a return from less productive agricultural lands to more productive forests, while recognizing the importance of planting the right trees in the right places, will help ensure healthy forest ecosystems for generations to come.

Ecosystem services: Ecosystem services can be defined as the outcomes from ecosystem functions that benefit human beings. Forests provide a full suite of goods and services that are vital to human health and livelihood. Forest ecosystem services include wildlife habitat and diversity, forest products, watershed services, and carbon storage. The ecological services of forests are many, including regulating climate change and hydrological cycles; buffering weather events; protecting watersheds and their vegetation, water flows and soils; and providing a vast store of genetic information.

Status of Hawaii’s Forests: Hawaii’s forest lands are both planted and natural and composed of introduced and native trees. Hawaii’s forests have changed dramatically from the time humans first arrived; native plants and animals have been harvested, new plants and animals have been introduced, and forests have been altered by many causes including fires, hurricanes, land clearing, cattle grazing, feral animals, harvesting, and conversion to non-forestry uses. A positive trend of the past 20 years in particular has been made by responsible landowners. Many forests have been fenced, feral animals have been eradicated, and invasive weeds have been controlled.

Size of Hawaii’s Forests: Hawaii’s forests cover over two million acres, approximately half of the land area of the State.  About half of the forest land is in private ownership. More than 50,000 acres have been dedicated to the planting, management, and natural regeneration of tree species for the purpose of possible eventual harvest. An even greater number of acres have been dedicated to re-establishing indigenous trees on conservation lands.

Forestlands Dedicated to Commercial Forestry:
DHHL’s ‘āina Mauna (Humu‘ula/Pi‘ihonua)
DLNR/DOFAW’s commercial plantations
Hōnaunau uka
Kealakekua Ranch
Keauhou Ka‘ū
Keauhou Kona Mauka
Kona Hema
McCandless Ranch and Cattle Co.
W. H. Greenwell Ranch

Environmental benefits of forestry: Environmental benefits of forestry include soil and water conservation, carbon dioxide sequestration, and the potential to provide locally sustainable, integrated industry such as wood working and renewable energy.

Economic and social benefits of forestry: Harvesting and processing operations provide employment opportunities in rural island communities, including jobs for foresters, woodworkers, sawyers, nursery growers, truck drivers, millers, tree planters, researchers, and manufacturers, just to name a few. More than 900 workers were employed in the Hawai‘i forest and woodworking industry corresponding payroll; $30.7 million.1

Woodworking and forestry: Hawaii’s woodworking industry is one of the best value-added industries in the State, particularly when viewed from the price of raw lumber to finished tables and chairs. Local wood artisans draw from the diverse pallet of locally grown woods including koa, mango, milo, various eucalypts, and sugi pine. Hawaii’s wood products are sought after and cherished for their uniqueness, beauty, and cultural value.

Forests and Hawaii’s future: Our forests are critically important to the State’s economy, its people, and its culture. Hawaii’s forests provide aesthetic value, recreational enjoyment, specialty non-timber forest products, water conservation, improved air quality, wood and fiber products, and many other amenities. It is important that future directions of the forest industry consider forest management that sustains the health and growth of Hawaii’s forests over the long term. Sustainable forest management is a multi-generational undertaking and with a continued dedicated effort, the endeavors of the past will help ensure healthy and productive forests in the future.

Services and Resources:
General Forest / Forest Management / Resource Information:
Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association (HFIA)
Information about government incentive programs for tree-planting or forest management on private lands:
The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) forestry extension
Information about growing native plants, planting the right tree in the right place: www.arbordayHawaii .org.
Avoiding invasive species:
Protecting Hawaii’s Forests through legislation and native forest restoration appropriations:
Email Hawai‘i State Representatives:
Email Hawai‘i State Senators:
Starting a forestry project on private land: College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) forestry extension
Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) Resource Guide and Directory (for a list of forestry professionals)
The Healthy and Productive Forests campaign is funded by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development.

1 Yanagida, J. F., J. B. Friday, P. Illukpitiya, R. J. Mamiit, and Q. Edwards. Economic Value of Hawaii’s Forest Industry in 2001,http://www.ctahr.Hawai‘i .edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/EI-7.pdf.

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