Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office
Pacific Region

Tools for Partners and Landowners

Pacific Islands Project Highlights

Kona Dryland Forest Project

Ninety percent of the dry forests in the Hawaiian Islands have been eliminated, and the remaining ten percent have been heavily degraded by introduced plants and ungulates on the two largest islands, Maui and Hawai‘i.

One of the largest remaining areas of dry forest in the Hawaiian Islands is in the North Kona region on the island of Hawai‘i.

This area is one of the finest examples of this ecosystem remaining in Hawai‘i, and includes populations of the endangered kauila (Colubrina oppositifolia), uhiuhi (Caesalpinia kavaiensis), aupaka (Isodendrion pyrifolium), ‘aiea (Nothocestrum breviflorum), koki‘o (Kokia drynarioides), and hala pepe (Pleomele Hawaiiensis).

The major threats to the dry forest in the North Kona area are fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum), which fuels wildfires; ungulates, which destroy plants and increase the disturbed habitat available for fountain grass to invade; and rodents, which eat the seeds and seedlings of native plants, preventing regeneration. Additional threats include insect predation and other alien plant species.

The Kona Dry Forest Restoration Group was initiated in 1993, through a cooperative agreement between the Hawai‘i Forest Industry Association (HFIA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service). The Group formed through this agreement was initially composed of representatives from the HFIA, who administer the group; Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife; National Tropical Botanical Garden; Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate; Potomac Investment Associates Kona Partnership; Hannah Springer and Mike Tomich of Kukui‘ohiwai; Basil Hansen; Hualalai Ranch; and the Service.

The overall goals of the Group are to:

  • Exchange ideas with cooperators which will lead to the long-term protection and management of the dry forest in the North Kona district.
  • Develop a management plan for dry forests in these areas which will serve as a model for other landowners.
  • Demonstrate the management and/or restoration of a dry forest on private lands.
  • Develop cost-effective methods of controlling alien plant and animal species and revegetating native species which are applicable on a large scale.
  • Provide short-term protection for the remnant dry forests in demonstration plots, e.g., by means of fire breaks.
  • The initial project undertaken by the Group was located in a 5.8-acre parcel leased to NTBG by KSBE, called Ka‘upulehu mauka. This site is located on the Ka‘upulehu lava flow and is composed of remnant dry forest dominated by lama (Diospyros sandwicensis). It occurs on rough ‘a‘a lava with relatively shallow soils.

After two years of active management, largely through hand spraying of a grass specific herbicide, the fountain grass at NTBG’s Ka‘upulehu mauka parcel has been reduced from 100% ground cover to less than 10%. The rat population has been decreased sufficiently to allow for seed production.

The Group has expanded to include other agencies and organizations conducting dry forest restoration, including The Nature Conservancy; U.S.Army from Pohakuloa Training Area; Will and Judy Hancock from Kalopi; U.S.Forest Service; and others as they are interested in participating.

The Group, largely through the U.S. Forest Service and a student intern, controls the remaining and new infestations of fountain grass and other weeds at the site and continues to monitor and maintain the fire break. Eventually, the Group hopes to turn the management of this site, along with the continued monitoring, back to NTBG.

With the Ka‘upulehu mauka site in the maintenance and monitoring stage, the Group wanted to test a larger scale management efforts, and selected the 70 acres of remnant dry forest of Ka‘upulehu makai which is leased to PIA by KSBE. Currently, the project is funded through the Service, with a salary match for a coordinator and a student intern from KSBE and in-kind contributions from Kukui‘ohiwai, PIA, KSBE, NTBG, TNC, DOFAW, USFS, and US Army. KSBE also funded and constructed the fence around the parcel.

The main goal of the larger Ka‘upulehu makai parcel is to demonstrate the ability to reduce fire risk and restore dry forest in a large area, adapting the most economical and effective methods field tested in the Ka‘upulehu mauka parcel to this larger area. In addition, the Group will continue to interact with others conducting similar work, through various network opportunities.

‘Ola‘a-Kīlauea Partnership

Map of `Ola`a-Kilauea Project Area

The Partnership has recently expanded from 32,000 acres to approximately 420,000 acres with the addition of the entire National Park and Kamehameha Schools lands (Keauhou Ranch - 30,000 acres and Kau/Kona lands - 150,000 acres). Current Partners and land acreage include:

  • Kūlani Correctional Facility (State) - 7,400 acres
  • Puu Makaala Natural Area Reserve (State) - 12,400 acres
  • National Park Service (NPS) - Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park - 219,000 acres
  • Kamehameha Schools (KS) - 189,000 acres
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • U.S.G.S. Biological Resources Division
  • U.S.D.A. Forest Service
  • The Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i

Biological Importance and Management Goals: The project area contains one of the best remaining native forest ecosystems in Hawai‘i with high diversity and general lack of invasive weed species. The area is essential habitat for four species of endangered forest bird, and also supports the endangered ‘io, nēnē, Hawaiian hoary bat and twenty-two rare plant species including ten endangered species. Management goals include enhancing the long-term survival of native ecosystems and managing a large contiguous area across ownership boundaries. Management and research are currently focused on removing or reducing impacts from feral animals, alien plants and non-native predators, restoring native habitat and endangered species, and providing work training to Kūlani inmates.

Source(s) of Funding: Partners have contributed approximately 500,000/yr in funding and in-kind services (e.g. inmate labor). Outside grants have provided an additional $100,000 - $300,000/yr.


  • The Partnership is currently jointly managing 14,100 acres. Four fenced units are pig free (6,800 acres). Feral pig control is currently underway in three units (7,300 acres), and we are planning on fencing an additional 15,000 acres in 2004. These units are all linked to fenced management units on state and/or park land and include some of the best quality native forest in Hawaii.
  • The Partnership expanded to include the 30,000 acre Keauhou Ranch which links forested ecosystems from Kūlani to the Mauna Loa Strip Road section of the park. KS is beginning a planning effort for the Ranch focused on restoration, education, stewardship and conservation.
  • Kūlani staff and inmates built a native plant greenhouse at Kūlani and started propagation and outplanting to restore and landscape Kūlani and other Partnership lands.
  • The Partnership continued restoration of Mauna Loa silversword and expanded the rare plant restoration program to include other endangered species. We are outplanting these species in fenced, pig-free exclosures on Kūlani and KS lands. Partnership continued restoration of Mauna Loa silversword and expanded the rare plant restoration program to include other endangered species. We are outplanting these species in fenced, pig-free exclosures on Kūlani and KS lands.
  • Project staff and Kūlani inmates controlled and mapped invasive alien plants throughout Kūlani Correctional Facility, and staff completed three years of surveys of alien plants in three management units. ject staff and Külani inmates controlled and mapped invasive alien plants throughout Kūlani Correctional Facility, and staff completed three years of surveys of alien plants in three management units.

Map of `Ola`a-Kilauea Fenced Units

Future Projects: Long-term goals include enhancing the long-term survival of native ecosystems and cooperatively managing a large contiguous landscape across ownership boundaries. The highest priority projects include completing fenced units, planning/fundraising for new fenced units, feral ungulate control, fence maintenance, rare plant restoration, ongoing control of priority alien plants and developing a strategy for control of mouflon sheep. Over the next year, Partnership members will also be strategizing about how to effectively plan for and manage a large landscape which includes the additional KS lands (150,000 acres of Kau and Kona lands) recently added to the partnership.

For more information:
Tanya Rubenstein, Project Coordinator
‘Ola‘a-Kilauea Management Group
P.O. Box 52
Resources Management - Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
Volcano, Hawai`i 96718
(808) 985-6197
(808) 985-6029 fax


Imi Pono no ka ‘Aina - "Seeking Good for the Land"

An environmental education program established in early 1999 by a cooperative partnership between the U.S. Army Garrison Hawai‘i, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with support from the Hawai‘i Department of Education. The program was developed in hope of instilling a strong conservation ethic and sense of stewardship in local communities.

The goal of this program is to develop outreach programs which will enable students and teachers to learn about Hawaiian geology, native ecosystems, native plants and animals, the impact of introduced species and feral animals, current resource management and research activities, and tips about hiking safely and responsibly. In addition, participants develop teamwork and communication skills aiding them in all aspects of life.

The first major endeavor was a two-week Summer Enrichment Program offered to three Big Island high schools (Hilo, Ka‘u, and Waiakea) with field trips to:

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
Kamehame Beach
Ola‘a Kilauea Management Area
Pohakuloa Training Area

Twelve students are selected through an application and interview process and obtain hands-on experience alongside biologists, resource managers, and technicians devoted to protecting and preserving Hawai`i's fragile ecosystems.

A second accomplishment within eight months of the conception of Imi Pono no ka ‘Aina is the "Big Island Minute Program" on radio station KWXX 94.7.

A conservation message is aired by the radio station every weekday morning (except Wednesdays) during the 9:00 a.m. hour. After one minute's worth of information, deejays Kat and Keala will ask a question related to the information they just heard and the first caller with the correct answer wins one of the following: Hakalau Forest t-shirt, auto pass to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, guided tour at Pohakuloa Training Area, autographed photo by Jack Jeffrey, free lunch, or gift certificate.

Teacher workshops and other environmental education opportunities at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center and the Volcano Rare Plant Facility are being discussed.

For more information:
Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park
P.O. Box 52
Hawai‘i 96718
(808) 985-6196
(808) 985-6029 fax


Last updated: September 20, 2012
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