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1. What are ecosystem services?
Healthy forest ecosystems are ecological life-support systems. Forests provide a full suite of goods and services that are vital to human health and livelihood; natural assets known as ecosystem services. Many of these goods and services are traditionally viewed as free benefits to society, or “public goods” – wildlife habitat and diversity, watershed services, carbon storage, and scenic landscapes, for example. Recognizing forest ecosystems as natural assets with economic and social value can help promote conservation and help in determining the value of our forest resources. Articles in the July 2009 Hawai‘i Forest Journal fall within the broad theme of ecosystem services. Go to to see this and other issues of the Journal.

2. What is the current 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, the result of many events occurring over a long period of time. 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.

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. Continuing threats include invasive weed species, feral animals, and wildfires. While there have been significant improvements in the health of our forests since the turn of the last century, 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. 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. The forestlands listed below for the most part are being treated as conservation forests with the potential and the option for harvesting in the distant future. An even greater number of acres have been dedicated to re-establishing indigenous trees on conservation lands.


Exotic Timber Plantation

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

3. Why do we need to manage our forests?
By managing our forests using best management practices, we help sustain the growth and health of Hawaii’s forests and watersheds over the long term. This can be accomplished by planting the right trees in the right places and in the right manner; by well reasoned culling of dead and dying trees; by fencing out feral ungulates; and by removing invasive plants. Forest management is by its nature a multi-generational land activity and with a continued dedicated and focused effort, the best efforts of the past will succeed. To learn more about forestry in Hawai‘i visit the Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) website at

4. What are some of the 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. Forestry operators are compelled to ensure ongoing and well-managed planting of sufficient trees to maintain and grow their business. As with larger scaled processing operations, craftsmen know that planting and management is critical for sustaining their livelihood.

5. What are the potential economic and social benefits of forestry?
Harvesting and processing operations provide many economic and social benefits. They 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. The 2004 survey “Economic Value of Hawaii’s Forest Industry in 2001” revealed that more than 900 workers were employed in the Hawai‘i forest and woodworking industry, with a corresponding payroll of $30.7 million.1

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

6. How does Hawaii’s woodworking industry factor into discussions regarding 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. A healthy forest that creates employment opportunities can generate income. This income can then be used to manage the forest for health – thereby perpetuating its own existence. 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.

7. What cost-share and government support programs are available to help landowners manage forests?
There are many grants and programs available to help landowners engaging in forestry and conservation. The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) forestry extension site (http://www.ctahr.Hawaii .edu/forestry/incentive.html) has a webpage with information about government incentive programs for tree-planting or forest management on private lands.

8. How can I help Hawaii’s forests?
There are many ways you can help Hawaii’s forests, including:

  • Grow native plants. Make sure you plant the right tree in the right place. For more information about planting native trees, visit and www.arbordayHawaii .org.
  • When hiking, clean your shoes to get rid of weed seeds before and after entering the forest – especially a native forest.
  • Don’t release domestic animals such as dogs and cats into the wild. They can cause problems in the forest for flora and fauna.
  • Make sure the plants you grow are not invasive species. Visit or the HEAR website for more information about invasive species.
  • Get outdoors and experience Hawaii’s forests; learn about their importance first hand. Hawai‘i is full of accessible trails, parks, and preserves.
  • Encourage State legislators to help protect our forests by strengthening quarantine regulations and getting appropriations for native forest restoration. Contact your Hawai‘i State Legislators at reps@capitol.Hawaii .gov for Representatives and for Senators.

9. Why are our forests an important part of 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.

10.Where do I go to get information about starting a forestry project on my land?
Go to the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) forestry extension website at or the Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) Resource Guide and Directory at for a list of forestry professions.

11. What is the Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) and what purpose does it serve?
Established in 1989, the Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) is a nonprofit corporation founded by and for people committed to managing and maintaining healthy and productive forests. As Hawaii’s recognized forest industry trade association, HFIA, through education, planning, information exchange, marketing, and advocacy, encourages the responsible growth of Hawaii’s forest industry. HFIA’s programs promote healthier forests, increased business, and more jobs within the sector.

HFIA has a diverse membership of over 220 individuals and private and public organizations, including woodworkers, landowners, sawyers, foresters, growers, environmentalists, government officials, and others interested in the organization’s goals. HFIA promotes a balance of forest land uses ranging from protecting and restoring native forests to managing commercial tree farms.

HFIA’s purposes are to:

  • Encourage sound forestry practices for the benefit of Hawaii’s forests and the forest industry;
  • Promote the health and sustainability of Hawaii’s forests;
  • Provide sustainable forest management services while providing habitat restoration, stewardship opportunities, and environmental and cultural education;
  • Operate as an official trade association of the Hawai‘i forest industry for the purpose of promoting a common business interest;
  • Promote public relations for Hawaii’s forest industry and stimulate interest, use and involvement in the forest products industry in Hawai‘i;
  • Articulate and advocate as a focused voice the needs and interests of the forest industry before local, state and federal governments;
  • Provide members and others with opportunities for dialog, education, advancement, and improvement in all aspects of the Hawai‘i forest industry; and
  • Promote and develop industry standards, research and development, quality control, and industry integrity in the State of Hawai‘i.

HFIA activities/accomplishments include:

  • Dryland forest restoration and education at Ka‘ūpūlehu Dryland Forest, Kalaemanō Cultural Center, and La‘i‘ōpua Dryland Forest in West Hawai‘i;
  • Hawaii’s WoodshowTM, Na La‘au o Hawai‘i, an annual statewide exhibition that promotes appreciation for the participating artists and the positive role forests play economically and ecologically. Learn more at;
  • Promotion of Hawaii’s Wood brandTM to benefit those in the forest products industry;
  • Creation of the Hawai‘i Forest Institute (HFI), which promotes the health and productivity of Hawai’i forests through public education and scientific research.  Learn more at;
  • Symposia and professional training programs; and
  • HFIA website at

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