THE HEALTHY AND PRODUCTIVE FORESTS PROJECT
The Healthy and Productive Forests Project envisions that 90% of Hawai’i Island forest lands will be sufficiently free of invasive species by 2040 and that they produce both valuable goods from the forest and desirable environmental services. Environmental services will include native species conservation, carbon sequestration, and hydrological services. As productive forests, they it will provide raw materials for wood utilizing enterprises. Our communities will enjoy enhanced recreation and cultural opportunities through improved access to the forest. A well-managed forest will increase aesthetic values and reduce risks from disease vectors such as mosquitoes.
Forest land is defined here as land that is capable of supporting closed canopy forests, where zoning permits the practice of forestry, and where owners have not dedicated the land to other productive and permitted uses such as agriculture.
To achieve these goals, the Healthy and Productive Forest Project will solicit input, assistance and permissions from foresters, landowners, academics, public officials, and regulatory agencies.
The Healthy and Productive Forest Project mission is to:
1) Develop and demonstrate at operational scale various methods for rehabilitating forests threatened by invasive species in Hawai’i
2) Disseminate to Government officials and the public information on cost and lost opportunities represented by threatened forests
3) Disseminate techniques and methodologies to landowners with affected forest lands and encourage immediate action.
The methodologies to be developed will:
1) Be compliant with applicable zoning laws and other regulations.
2) Be economically feasible.
3) Be consistent with landowners’ objectives.
4) Result in healthy and productive forests.
Hawaii’s Invasive Woody Species
1. Vast areas on Hawai‘i Island have been overtaken by invasive woody species:
o 400,000 acres of Hawai‘i Island have been infested by Waiawi (USFS)
o Waiawi is present on all major Hawaiian Islands and across the Pacific tropics
o The area continues to increase and could be 50% of Hawai‘i Island (USFS)
o The situation is exacerbated by advancing Rapid Ohia Death (ROD)
o Control efforts to date have largely been small scale and limited impact
o The effects are largely unseen by the public because most of Hawai‘i Island is un-roaded and/or closed to entry. Also because many people do not recognize an invasive species.
2. Damage done by invasive woody species includes:
o Partial or complete loss of native habitat
o Damage to proper functioning of watersheds
o Soil degradation
o Near or total barrier to entry by people for recreation, management or science
o Suboptimal carbon sequestration
o Loss of opportunities for grazing and forestry
o Loss of cultural opportunities for Hawaiians
o Loss of biodiversity
3. Barriers to effective solutions:
o Our cultural belief that “nature knows best” gives us a bias toward “hands off” and inhibits or prevents active solutions. It is quite evident that our forests cannot control the invasion of invasive weeds such as Strawberry guava or Albizia. Aggressive, active intervention will be required.
o The slow moving scourge aspect, together with being “out of sight-out of mind” takes this issue off the front page and out of people’s awareness.
o Solutions will take significant political will and money.
o Solutions will often be complex and/or situation specific. There are no known silver bullets.
4. Effective solutions will:
o Be supported by credible, current, relevant data.
o Require a concerted public information campaign encompassing the total issue. Not the loss of one more unfortunate species that most people don’t know.
o Require an investment commensurate with “10% of our state has been taken over by an invading army” messaging.
o Recognize and capitalize on the positive value of invasive woody material as biomass and other products.
o Likely involve complex multi-agent solutions, including combinations of mechanical, chemical and biological methods.
Healthy and Productive Forests Project Committee
Don Bryan (Chair)